October 1, 1996
INT. COUNTRY CHURCH - NIGHT
The man facing us is bearded, sweating, intense,'joyous.
Jacket and tie, jeans, fortyish. His name is Wittold Levi.
Levi turns to a chalkboard on a tripod and writes the word.
Written like this. One word.
Small e. Capital X, capital Z.
He turns back to face an as-yet-unseen audience.
eXistenZ. It's new, it's from
Antenna Research, and it's here,
We now see Levi's audience, about seventy-five people, some
standing, some sitting on plastic folding chairs. They are
of very mixed age and type, but they all cheer and applaud
We are in the central playing area of a small, deconsecrated
country church, and Levi performs on a broad, low, carpeted
plywood dais. At the far end of the dais, a man and a woman
- assistants to Levi - are carefully laying out about two
dozen plastic modules that look somewhat like high-tech ski
My name is Wittold Levi, my
friends call me Witt - and I'm
the project manager for eXistenZ.
I recognize some familiar faces -
that's all right, that's all
right. We won't throw you out. We
encourage consumer loyalty, and
we want you to help us with our
product testing. We're a team,
Antenna and you.
A delighted stir from the crowd.
Those of you who have come to our
invited seminars before will know
that I normally lead the group
through our new games, but
tonight, it won't be me. No, for
the test launch of eXistenZ by
Antenna, we have brought you a
seminar leader who is rather
An unbelieving, excited stir. Could it really be?
Yes, it is. The world's greatest
game designer is here, in person,
to lead you, the first test
enclave, through her newest
creation, eXistenZ by Antenna...
The small crowd is now tremendously excited, wide-eyed,
murmuring, one or two have actually gotten on their knees.
I give you, the Game-Pod Goddess
herself - Allegra Geller!
Levi moves to the edge of the crowd, works his way into it
until he has reached a small, unobtrusive figure who up to
now has hardly been noticed. She stands next to a security
guard who is dressed in a suit and tie but carries an
electronic wand of some sort. His name-tag identifies him as
Ted Pikul (rhymes with "Michael", not with "pickle"), and we
will see more of him later.
As Levi takes her hand and gently leads her out of the
crowd, her fans applaud softly, touch her hem. They part
like water as she passes amongst them, clutching her own
personal game-pod case with both hands. She mounts the dais
like a blind person led by her seeing-eye dog.
Allegra Geller, early thirties, conservatively dressed, is
bright, acutely aware, but wary and controlled. When she
speaks, she is deliciously, sexily shy, serious, melodic.
The world of games is in a kind
of a trance. People are
programmed to accept so little,
but the possibilities are so
You probably thought that
tonight, we were going to test a
new game that I designed.
Excited murmurings from the crowd.
But there is no new game to test,
at least, not in the usual sense.
Confused, slightly disappointed mutterings.
No, no, it's going to be much
better than you expected, because
eXistenZ is not just a game. It's
an entirely new game system.
Antenna Research and I developed
it together - the eXistenZ System
by Antenna - and it involves a
whole lot of new toys, which you
are going to be the first to try
The crowd's spirit rises again. Levi steps forward, smiling,
playing off the renewed energy.
Levi turns to the chalkboard and writes the word.
Written like this. One word.
Capital M, capital F. MetaFlesh
is what our new toys are made of
- the MetaFlesh Game-Pod, only
from Antenna Research. It
connects with any industry
standard bioport, which I know
you all have or you wouldn't be
(chuckles from the crowd)
.using, however, a very non-
standard connecting device which
Levi turns again to the chalkboard.
.we call an UmbyCord. Spelled
Levi writes the word out and then turns back to his by-now-
I guess you can tell I started
off as a schoolteacher.
4 (APPRECIATIVE CHUCKLES)
But I never had anything quite so
fun or so revolutionary to teach
as what Allegra and I are going
to teach you all tonight.
With a theatrical flourish, Levi whirls around to face his
two assistants, who have finished laying out their devices
on the back table and are now standing crisply at attention
at either end of it.
Are the MetaFlesh Game-Pods by
Antenna Research ready?
Yes, Mr; Levi.
And how many of these precious
prototypes did we manage to bring
Twenty-one, Mr. Levi.
Levi's face clouds slightly. The audience does not hear the
Twenty-one? I thought we had an
even two dozen.
The first three we opened were...
Really? Any chance that some of
We think we're clean.
God-damn better be.
Levi turns back to his audience, radiant once more.
We have twenty-one prototype
MetaFlesh Game-Pods, and that
means that for our first wave
test enclave we need twenty-one
volunteers who will port in these
slave units with the Game-Pod
Levi doesn't need to finish his pitch. Every hand is waving
in the air, and every pair of lips is saying, "Me, me, oh
God, please, let it be me!"
Geller can only stand by modestly and beam at the intensity
of the small crowd's enthusiasm.
INT. COUNTRY CHURCH. MINUTES LATER - NIGHT
A SHORT MONTAGE as the twenty-one volunteers mount the dais
and are fitted with their game gear:
The assistants undo the heavy-duty snap locks and split open
the ski-boot-like plastic modules on the back table. Inside,
resting in a lining of dense foam, are what look almost like
living kidneys: the MetaFlesh Game-Pods.
Coiled in each boot toe is the Y-shaped, multi-player
UmbyCord that comes with each pod, a split twelve-foot
connector cord that resembles an umbilical cord, twisted,
translucent, blue and red veiny vessels running just below
The volunteers watch in hushed reverence, as though about to
The game-pods are gingerly lifted out of their cases.
The UmbyCords are uncoiled and plugged into ports in the
back of the game-pods.
The shirts, blouses, and jackets of the volunteers are
lifted at the back to reveal their owners' bioports, which
are small, soft-plastic, flesh-coloured permanent spinal
jacks positioned just above the belt line.
Twenty-two folding chairs are placed in a circle on the
dais. As each volunteer has his UmbyCord plugged into his
bioport, he takes one of the seats and places his quivering,
rippling game-pod, now connected directly to his nervous
system, on his lap.
The last chair is taken by Allegra Geller, who is fussed
i over and settled by Levi as she unpacks her own master game-
pod with exaggerated delicacy and is then ported in to the
players on either side of her.
We END the short MONTAGE with the security guard, Pikul,
standing with arms folded near the church's side door,
watching the proceedings with fascination.
A loud knocking at the door forces Pikul to turn away from
the action on the dais. He walks over to the door and opens
it. A hyper, exasperated fan almost tumbles into the church.
Pikul immediately raises his electronic wand and bars his
Hold it. Not so fast.
In response, the fan thrusts a card at him.
Pikul takes the card, a complex invitation card which
includes a holographic photo of the fan under which floats
his name, Joel Dichter. Dichter anxiously looks past Pikul
into the depths of the church, nervously adjusting the vinyl
case slung over his shoulder.
Oh, god. I hope I'm not too late.
Did I miss the port-in?
It's just the first wave. You can
be part of the second wave.
(rereads the invitation)
OK, Joel Dichter. Put your arms
up. I have to scan you. Metal and
heavy synthetics can't come in.
A weapons check?
More for recording devices. Lotta
money invested in these games.
Industrial espionage happens.
What's in this case?
I brought my game-pod. It's got
original Marway tissue
architecture. It's kind of
obsolete but I was hoping,...
even though I couldn't afford the
Antenna Fifteen upgrade, I
figured out a method of virtual
porting that I thought might...
Pikul uses his wand to scan the vinyl case, then opens the
zipper and feels around. In the case is a more solid,
rubbery version of the new MetaFlesh pods.
You won't need it tonight.
Everything's provided for.
Dichter suddenly spots Geller on the dais. He almost faints.
Migod! Is that who I think it is?
(with paternal pride)
Yeah, that's her. She's
something, isn't she?
But why would a star like her
come to a product seminar in a
little one-horse town like this?
This is where the real people
live, Joel. Her real fans, like
Yeah, well, you said it. Just
Dichter has scanned OK. Pikul waves him into the church to
join the spectators who will form the second wave and re-
locks the door.
On the dais, in the center of the circle of linked game
players, Levi nods at Geller.
Everything's in order. Are you
Sure. This is my favourite part.
There is giddy laughter in the room. Geller looks at every
player-in the circle as Levi steps down off the platform and
retires to the far edge of the small, watching throng.
I'm ready to download eXistenZ by
Antenna Research into you all
now. I'm warning you, it's going
to be a wild ride, but don't
panic no matter what happens.
I'll see you all back here in no
time at all.
Now the giddy laughter goes a touch nervous, uncertain, but
it's too late. Geller depresses a nipple-like protuberance
on the game-pod on her lap, and all the players close their
eyes and go rigid, like members of a seance who have
suddenly been contacted by the spirit world. The pods in
their laps begin a rhythmic, peristaltic rippling.
At the edge of the crowd, Pikul sidles up to Levi.
She seems to be very shy. It
never occurred to me that a big
star would be shy.
She spends most of her time alone
in a room designing her games. I
think she'd like it best if she
never had to show them to
Really? She doesn't enjoy all the
She hates having to port in with
her fans. It's too intimate.
Then why does she do it?
We make her do it.
By "we" you mean, the game
company, Antenna Research?
That's what I mean.
Are you with us or did an
independent security company send
Me? Oh, I'm with your own
management training program.
(shows him a card)
I want to end up in marketing and
(holds up security wand)
The only thing I know about
security is how to switch this
Well, for example, we've spent a
fortune developing eXistenZ, but
we all know it's a risky project.
She might have to make changes.
It's the only way we can convince
her that there might be a
A problem with her new game?
eXistenZ is a lot more than a
Yeah, right, it's a game system.
I heard that.
And we're worried that it's too
intellectual, too complex, too
weird, too artsy. That argument ;
never bothers her until she faces
her fans. She hates to be
rejected in the flesh, so we make
her come out sometimes to take
4 I've heard that she's very
A strange, choral humming begins to fill the church. Pikul
and Levi turn their attention to the dais, where the fans
rock and sway with the pulsing of the pods in their laps.
What are they doing?
It's the new Antenna Research
theme song. We thought this would
be a good way to launch it.
Everybody who plays eXistenZ is
going to be very familiar with
Haltingly, but gamely, Pikul tries to hum along.
Levi helps him out, and soon the whole room is humming along
happily, warmed by the Antenna Research corporate theme
The whole room, that is, except for Joel Dichter, who, at
the edge of the dais, is more concerned with fumbling around
in the vinyl pod-case hanging from his shoulder.
In the case, we watch as Dichter tears open his obsolete
game-pod to reveal a bizarre weapon, a pistol made of bone
and gristle, almost like the half-decayed body of a small
mammal - whose snout is the barrel, whose rigid hind leg is
Dichter takes his weapon out of its case, shakes off a few
gelatinous strips of game-pod flesh, and steps up onto the
Pikul is the first to notice this. He glances at Levi, who's
still blissed out and humming, then launches himself
awkwardly through the crowd.
Now in the middle of the circle, Dichter makes his way
towards the blissfully unsuspecting Geller, raising his
weapon as he goes.
Death to eXistenZ! Death to
Antenna Research! Death to the
demoness Allegra Geller!
No! Don't do it!
Dichter turns to see Pikul stumbling through the small
crowd, scrambling onto the dais. Distracted, Dichter
hurriedly raises his weapon again and fires it at Geller.
The first shot hits her in the shoulder and spins her off
her chair, which collapses over her and takes the second
bullet on its seat rim.
The circle of players on the dais moans as one, swoons and
jostles: they are all feeling the neural surge of Geller's
traumatized nervous system. Peeking out from under her
folding chair, Geller's eyes are wide with fear and
confusion. She clutches her shoulder without being aware of
it. Blood seeps in between her fingers
Now Levi and his two assistants scramble onto the platform
to get at Dichter, who fires wildly, hitting two of the
players nearest Geller. The circle of players immediately
goes spastic, screaming and twitching and dropping to the
ground and writhing. Many of them are clutching their
shoulders in the same spot as Geller, sympathy pain
transmitting through their UmbyCords.
Pikul manages to tackle Dichter, then starts whacking at him
with the security wand. Dichter twists around and raises his
weapon at Pikul, who immediately backs off in terror. But
before Dichter can pull the trigger, the two assistants
produce small, normal pistols from hidden holsters and empty
their clips into the prostrate Dichter. Dichter manages to
squeeze off one last shot at the approaching Jevi, hitting
him squarely in the chest. Levi goes down and is lost
amongst the jostling feet.
The watching fans pile onto the dais and begin to help the
players unplug from the game-pods which are obviously
causing them distress. Three of the players attack the dying
Dichter, dragging their game-pods after them, kicking at
whatever part of him they can find in the confused mass of
in the turmoil, Pikul is knocked to the ground. Amid the
stamping, sliding feet, he finds himself lying across the
stricken-Levi. Levi clutches Pikul desperately.
Get her out of here! Save her!
There might be more of them! Go
Me? Me take her?
We have enemies in our own house.
Trust no one. Trust no one...
The wide-eyed Pikul scrambles to his feet and promptly trips
over the all-but-dead Dichter. He falls painfully to his
knees, struggles up again, and finds the bizarre bone gun in
his hand. Pikul stares at it, fascinated, horrified.
He turns back to Levi, but Levi's eyes are rolling back as
he loses consciousness. The two assistants are making their
way towards them through the shoving, shuffling throng, guns
cocked, faces set hard. Panicked, Pikul jams the bone gun
into his suit pocket and jumps off the platform, wildly
looking around for Geller.
She and her chair have slipped off the dais in a heap only a
few feet away, and she is in several kinds of agony. Pikul
unports her, which immediately brings her some relief and a
lot of clarity. Pikul wards off a couple of fans with one
arm, screams at them.
She's coming with me! I'm
responsible for her! She's
supposed to come with me!
To his surprise, Geller laughs a dazed, hearty laugh.
Am I? With you?
Yeah, you're coming with me.
Pikul pulls her to her feet, but she immediately dives back
to the floor to find her game-pod and UmbyCord.
(suddenly near hysteria)
I can't lose this! I can't lose
She finds the game-pod still under the folding chair, a bit
flattened on one side but in one piece. She grabs the game-
pod and its UmbyCord and stuffs them into her MetaFlesh pod
case which has been knocked to the edge of the dais. As she
clutches it to her, Pikul takes her hand and hauls her
through the crowd, which is now spilling off the overcrowded
dais and clutching at Geller fitfully, like Velcro. They
head for the door, fighting everybody off as though they
might be lethal.
As they leave through the side door, Pikul sees five or six
fans, shrieking like monkeys, still stomping and kicking the
body of Dichter viciously, hysterically, while Levi's two
assistants carry him to the safety of the church's apse.
EXT. COUNTRY CHURCH - NIGHT
Pikul and Geller spew out of the doorway and find themselves
standing alone in the weedy parking lot of the church. The
church itself stands isolated on a country road just outside
a town which is not much more than two gas stations and a
Pikul and Geller look around wildly. The vehicles in the
parking lot are country, pickup trucks, rusted vans, 4x4s.
Across the road, aloof, maybe too high-class for the parking
lot, sits a Land Rover Defender 110, the one with the roof
cage and the seven seats and the winch hanging off the
front. Geller gestures towards the Defender.
Let's take my limo.
I don't trust the driver!
You drive, idiot!
They cross the road and jump in the Defender. Frances, the
driver, sixtyish, a retired lady farmer who moonlights, is
What's the commotion, Miss
Geller? Say, are you all right?
What's goin' on in there?
We need this vehicle, and we need
it without you. But with the
I can't do that. I can't abandon
Geller pulls the weird gun out of an astonished Pikul's
pocket. She points it at Frances.
Get out, Frances. You can say you
It'll take more than a dead
squirrel to get me out of this
Geller fires two shots. One rips a hole in Frances's
(getting out of her seat)
You have to push the shift lever
down to get it into reverse.
They drive off down the country road, leaving Frances in the
INT. DEFENDER LIMO - NIGHT
Pikul drives. He can see why the limo is an off-road
vehicle: the road is terrible, dirt and gravel, stutter
potholes and sharp ridges, the occasional fallen tree.
I normally like the countryside,
don't you? Normally, the country
is relaxing and calm.
Only if you don't really know
what's going on.
What do you mean?
There is great stress and anger
and violence in the countryside.
Thousands of life forms all
screaming ME ME ME and trying to
kill and dominate and devour the
other life forms. It's terrifying
Well, I like the countryside.
That's good, `cause you might end
up spending a lot of time here.
Sure. If you go back home to the
city, they'll probably be waiting
Yeah. My assassins. They'd want
to have a little talk with you
about where I am.
I was hoping that was just one
Did you hear the way he screamed
at me? He wasn't alone.
Everybody likes a conspiracy.
It's more satisfying than just
one crazy guy doing one crazy
Geller goes silent.
Well, what are we going to do out
here? Do you know your way
around? You know any country
Not country people. Games people.
The countryside's full of games
development people, project co-
ordinators, little factories -
you name it.
That's weird. I never knew that.
The city's full of bad
microwaves, bad thermals, bad
electro-optics. You can't shield
from it anymore. You can't get
true readings. The whole industry
moved out of the city years ago.
So you know your way around. We
can hide out.
Maybe. But it seems I have some
enemies I didn't know I had.
"Death to Allegra Geller." How'd
you like to hear somebody with a
gun screaming, "Death to Ted
(reflective pause; then)
Hey, how'd you know my name?
(indicating his name tag)
How did you know how to fire that,
gun? I've never seen anything
It has a trigger. I pulled it.
Can I see it?
Later. I think I'm gonna use it
in my next game. If there ever is
a next game.
Pikul glances at her. He hits a pothole and she bounces
around in her seat, exposing her far shoulder to him. Her
shirt is soaked with blood.
Migod, you're bleeding. I forgot
you got hit.
There is an urgent buzzing from somewhere in Pikul's breast
It's my pink-fone. I'm not sure I
should answer it.
Pikul pulls the pink-fone - it's soft surgical plastic,
palm-sized - out of his pocket. When he squeezes it open, a
diffuse pink light swells up from deep inside it.
What happened? Some fan went
crazy and started shooting up the
place. I don't know why. He was
just nuts. Allegra Geller? She's
with me. We're OK. Yeah. Yeah.
You're kidding me. You're kidding
me! God. 1 can't believe it. I
can't do that. No, how can I do
that? Well, I'm not really sure
where we are because...
Geller grabs the pink-tone from him. She fumbles around with
it, trying to find the power button. She accidentally
summons up a read-out, which she pauses to look at. What she
sees makes her glance up at Pikul.
What? Can I have my pink-tone
Geller finds the power button and pushes it. The pink inner
light flutters out. She unceremoniously throws the pink-tone
out the window. It lands in a rain ditch full of frogs.
What did you do that for? That
was our lifeline to civilization.
That was a rangefinder. As long
as you have that, they know where
They? You mean head office?
I mean anybody.
I heard what Levi said to you. He
said, "We have enemies in our own
house." He said it as he was
I don't think he died. I mean, do
you? I think he maybe fainted...
Maybe he went unconscious...
That was Alex Kindred, head of
publicity and marketing, at
.on that very expensive pink-
fone you threw away.
He said that some bizarre
fanatical group called the Anti-
eXistenZialists has put a price
of 5 million dollars on your
head, payable to anybody who
kills you. It's been released to
all the media now. Everybody
knows about it.
No. Anti-eXistenZialists. Capital
X, capital Z. They somehow found
out about eXistenZ and they want
to kill you for creating it. They
say that the eXistenZ game system
will "finally destroy reality",
or something totally nuts like
It makes sense to you? You're not
I hear things. It's hard to
And what else?
Kindred said that I'm your
bodyguard and the company is
holding me totally responsible
for your safety.
Pikul, why don't you have a gun
You're not armed. They told me
you were my security but you have
Who told you that? I'm just a
marketing trainee. My clinic
master thought I'd learn
something about marketing if I
moonlighted as a security guard
on one of your test previews.
Fuck. I'm marked for death and
they send me on the road with a
(realization setting in)
Jesus! Marked for death!
Don't sweat it, Pikul. I'll
handle it. We just have to
disappear for a while. And right
now, we have to stop.
We do? Why?
So we can have an intimate moment
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - NIGHT
The intimate moment involves Pikul digging the bullet out of
I Geller's shoulder with a Swiss Army knife while kneeling in
front of the idling Defender's headlights. Pikul'is being
squeamish and not getting the job done.
C'mon. If you're gonna do it, do
He grits his teeth and digs in with a bit more gusto.
Something yellow and white, like a kernel of corn, flips out
of her wound and onto the road's shredding asphalt. Pikul
feels around for it, finds it, holds it up to the light.
I got it. Wow. Did somebody bite
What do you mean?
What I just dug out of you. It's
a tooth. A human tooth.
Pikul holds the tooth out to her, but she just glances at
it, then rummages around in her MetaFlesh game-pod bag.
Lemme see that weirdo pistol.
Geller pulls the strange weapon out of the bag. After a
moment of study, she expertly pops the magazine out of the
grip. The gristly magazine is packed with teeth.
Yep. The bullets are human teeth.
Look - this one's got a cavity.
That thing was designed to get
past any kind of metal or
synthetics detector. It's all
flesh and bone.
I suppose the smaller caliber
pistols would have to fire baby
teeth. The tooth fairy could go
I into the arms business.
That guy really came there
tonight just to kill you.
Amazing, isn't it?
EXT. MOTEL - NIGHT
We follow the Defender as it parks outside the Salmon Falls
Motel. Pikul jumps out carrying two paper bags of Perky
Pat's takeout. He knees the truck door shut and walks over
to motel door 5.
INT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT
Inside the very basic motel room, Pikul sits hypnotized,
reverentially watching Geller as he obsessively packs the
greasy remains of their Perky Pat burgers into the smallest
possible paper bundle.
Geller is sitting in the middle of her twin bed, her pod
before her on a hotel towel which is draped over her lap,
UmbyCord jacked into her bioport, a second towel slipping
off her shoulders leaving her almost naked, her shoulder
wound livid in the 25-watt light of the night table lamp.
Her hands twitch delicately over the surface of the pod like
insect antennae, so delicately that we are not sure that she
is actually touching the pod. Her eyes are half-closed, and
she is obviously in some kind of trance-like, ecstatic
Finally, she comes out of it and unplugs her UmbyCord,
discretely rearranging her towels in the process. She sighs
and speaks, not exactly to Pikul.
The whole gamesworld is in a kind
Yes. I remember you said that at
People are prepared to accept so
little. They're in a'cage formed
out of their own limited
expectations. They have no idea
what amazing things could be
Where were you just now? What
were you doing?
(a worried frown)
I was wandering through eXistenZ
- the new system, I mean.
(a shy, sexy smile)
I like it in there. Of course,
without another player you're
only a tourist. It's frustrating.
Why won't you let me contact
Antenna? They've got to be going
crazy, wondering what's happened
to you. I mean, it's not like
we've done something wrong. We
just ran because we didn't know
how many of them there were,
right? I think we owe it to
Antenna to let them know you're
all right, to get them to send
somebody to help you who knows
what he's doing... And besides, I
can't... I can't just keep doing
this, whatever it is, you know,
forever, not having any idea when
it's going to be...
Geller gets up and goes over to Pikul. She pulls up his
Hey, what are you doing?
Where's your bioport? Don't tell
me you were never fitted. I can't
Pikul shrugs his shirt back down, starts tucking it in.
No, I was never fitted with a
bioport. What do you care?
You're hoping to get into the biz
and you've never played one of my
games. You've never played any
game. That means you have no idea
what a genius I am.
My clinic master told me I don't
need to play a game to know how
to sell it.
Bullshit. Posturing. You don't
play my games, you don't work for
Antenna Research, I'll make sure
Look, I've been dying to play
your games. But I have this -
phobia about having my body
penetrated - surgically. You know
what I mean.
I'm not so sure I do.
Getting a bioport fitted... I
dunno. I can't do it. It's too
freaky. Makes my skin crawl.
God, c'mon. They just pop your
spine with a little hydro-gun.
Shoot the port-plug into it. They
do it at malls, like getting your
Yeah, sure. With only an
infinitesimal chance of permanent
spinal paralysis. I've read all
It's your chosen profession,
She pauses, then moves very close to him. She breathes her
words slowly, intimately, into his ear.
There's an intimacy involved in
playing eXistenZ that is beyond
description. It has to be
experienced. And frankly, the
two-player version is the most
exquisitely intense. Wouldn't you
like to play with me?
(his resolve is crumbling)
Well, yeah, of course, but... Let
me, uh, let me call Antenna...
(a gentle threat)
They wouldn't want to talk to you
if they knew you had never had a
bioport installed. It's company
policy, you know. They want you
to be passionate about your work.
Besides, once you're ported,
there's no end to the games you
You can't seriously want to play
games now. Not here. Not while
we're being hunted down by crazy
Geller sighs, then switches into her explaining-the-facts-
(cradling her pod)
My baby here took a huge hit in
the church, Pikul. You see how
Pikul takes a look. The pod is, in fact, quivering like a
It... she, yes, she's quivering.
When those UmbyCords got ripped
out of her in the church, ripped
GELLER (CONT' D)
out just as the game architecture
was being downloaded from her to
all those slave pods... that's a
very vulnerable time for her. She
could be crying out for help
right here, right now.
The only way I can tell if
everything's OK - the game's not
been contaminated, the pod, my
baby, is not about to be crippled
for life because of my negligence
- the only way is to play
eXistenZ with somebody friendly.
Are you friendly, or are you not?
Sure, all right.
(he might have found a way
Let's do it... let's do it now.
Let me see.
(checks his watch)
To get an illegal, unregistered
bioport installed at about
midnight - we just drive up to
your local country gas station,
EXT. COUNTRY GAS STATION - NIGHT
The Defender is parked by the pumps. A gangly pump attendant
- his name, embroidered on his overalls, seems to be Gas -
fills the truck as Pikul and Geller hover nervously.
Anything else I can do for you?
Well, Gas, you could check your
The what? The sparkplugs?
You heard me. My friend here has
a bioport problem.
A bioport, now, that's a sort of
a hole in your spine, isn't it?
Lotta assholes `round here, but
that's generally it. I don't know
why you'd be talking to me about
Geller smiles a knowing smile.
Sure you do.
Gas looks at her closely for the first time. His eyes widen
in disbelief. He pulls a greasy wallet out of his overalls
and flips out the card holders. Amongst various family
photos, hot rod photos, fishing photos, is a photo of
Allegra Geller clipped from a glossy magazine. Under the
photo is the legend "Genius In A Game-Pod".
Gas takes her hand in his and kisses it.
Allegra Geller. You changed my
INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE - NIGHT
Pikul sits on a mouldy, greasy, plump, wingback chair in the
corner of the gas-station garage, watching Gas balance
shakily on one leg as he puts on a fresh set of overalls.
What was your life like before?
Before it was changed by Allegra
I operated a gas station.
But you still operate a gas
station, don't you?
Only on the most pathetic level
of reality. Geller's work
Did you ever play her game
ArtGod? One word, capital A,
I don't have a bioport, remember?
"Thou, the player of the game,
art God." Very spiritual. Funny,
too. God, the artist. The
(chuckles to himself)
Gas zips up his fresh overalls.
Those are sterile, are they?
Not to worry. They way they set
things up, you could fire in a
bioport in a slaughterhouse and
not generate an infection.
Then why the clean overalls?
It's a mental thing. Helps me
focus. The one thing you don't
want to do is miss with the stud-
God, the mechanic.
Gas slides open a drawer of his red metal mechanic's rolling
toolbox and pulls out a greasy device that looks like a
carbon-fibre voltage meter.
We call this thing a stud-finder.'
It locates the spot on your spine
where the x intersects with the
y. We don't want to be even a
micron out of whack. That's when
you get troubles. It's a little
radar/sonar/laser thingee. Marks
you with a special range-finding
Never say dye.
Lift up your shirt and turn
EXT. GAS STATION - NIGHT
In the heat of the summer night, game-pod case still slung
over her shoulder, Geller wanders around the periphery of
the gas station, touching things - trees, the ground, grass
- at random, her expression suggesting that everything she
sees is amazing and delightful and slightly disturbing, like
someone who has wandered into a sculpture garden where
everything is perfect in every detail except that everything
is made out of bronze.
INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE - NIGHT
Gas pulls the trigger on the stud-finder, then removes it
from Pikul's back. We see a small purple flower-mark, like
the kind that marks sides of beef, on the skin over Pikul's
spine just above the belt line. Pikul stands up from his
kneeling position on the wingback chair. He stretches,
twists. Everything seems to be all right.
See, that didn't hurt, did it?
I didn't expect that to hurt. I
expect the next part to hurt.
Gas pulls the bioport insertion gun out of another drawer,
this time a locked wooden one bolted under his metal-topped
work bench. It is a scary thing, like a hydraulic jack
designed by Giger, only smaller.
Yeah, that's what I expect will
I've never crippled anyone yet.
How many have you done?
Three. Well, you'll be the third.
EXT. GAS STATION - NIGHT
We are close on a bizarre insect which sits unsteadily on
the chrome of a gas pump handle. Geller's hand comes into
frame and gently eases the creature into its palm. Geller
floats her hand closer to her face and studies the creature
with an expression of rapture on her face.
The insect is large, praying mantis-sized, and it has two
heads, neither of which seems to know how to deal with the
other one. Each time it attempts to move, it falls over in
an awkward heap because its legs are all different sizes and
shapes. It beats its large, papery wings wildly in order to
pull itself upright and then begins the whole clumsy process
all over again. Eventually, its wing action lifts it off
Geller's hand - more by accident than will, it seems - and
the creature disappears in the darkness surrounding the gas
INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE - NIGHT
Geller enters the garage and sees Pikul with his back to the
wall of the service bay and a large wrench in his hand,
poised and threatening. Gas stands twenty feet away, his
insertion gun at the ready. A Mexican standoff.
What's going on, Gas?
Hell, he's acting like I'm
attackin' him. People usually pay
me.to do this, you know.
Yeah. All two of them.
As you can see, I've decided not
to have a bioport installed.
Geller walks over to Pikul and puts her face quite close to
his. He watches her lips move from the corner of his eye.
They. are full and moist and convincing.
This is it, you see. This is the
cage I was talking about, the
cage of your own making which
keeps you trapped and pacing
about in the smallest possible
space forever. Break out of your
cage, Pikul. Break out now.
INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE. MOMENTS LATER - NIGHT
Wearing mechanic's work gloves, Gas fires in the bioport
plug. Its impact knocks the breath out of Pikul, like being
kicked in the spine; he can't even scream. When Gas pulls
the insertion device away from Pikul's back, we see the
glossy plastic head of the bioport plug. It's surrounded by
a small, angry-looking volcano of rashy, irritated flesh.
That swelling doesn't last for
long. Tomorrow, you won't even
I love it. Great.
Pikul tries to get up from the wingback chair and promptly
collapses into the arms of Geller and Gas.
What's going on? I can't walk!
The procedure comes with its own
epidural, just like when you have
a baby. Kinda like instant
paralysis from the waist down?
That's why it didn't hurt you.
It'll wear off in about twenty
As they ease Pikul into a sitting position in the chair, Gas
almost drops the insertion gun which he has been holding in
one hand. He leans it against the wingback chair, and Pikul
notices blood and flecks of skin on Gas's work gloves.
You're looking more like a
butcher than a mechanic.
Things do get kinda confused
these days, don't they? I'm gonna
go wash up. You two make
yourselves at home.
Gas strides off towards the washroom with an air of great
satisfaction. Geller eases her game-pod out of its case and
starts to attach its two-player, Y-shaped UmbyCord to it.
What are you doing?
We don't have to wait for the
swelling to go down.
You're going to port into me?
While I'm paralysed?
You wanted to play my game,
Yeah, I did, and I do, but...
It's an instant-on world, isn't
She lifts up his shirt to reveal the new bioport. It already
looks a bit less angry than it did before. Geller caresses
it, prods it, plays with it. Then she takes out a little
bottle of WD-40 and sprays it around and into the port.
What's that for? It feels cold.
New ports are sometimes a bit
tight. Wouldn't want to hurt you.
How come bioports don't get
infected? I mean, they open right
into your body...
Listen to what you're saying,
Pikul. Don't be ludicrous.
Don't you think you could call me
Geller gently works her UmbyJack into Pikul's bioport. She
locks her eyes onto his, then squeezes her game-pod's ON
teat. Instantly, her pod convulses and begins to flash and
spark and crackle. White electronic smoke seeps from its
crevices and a kind of bioelectronic fat sputters from its
Geller leaps up from the arm of the chair and rips her
UmbyJack out of Pikul's spine. He can't feel it, but the
furious force of her move twists him in his chair.
Shit, Pikul! I can't believe
this! I trusted you and you blew
my pod! You must have neural-
What do you mean?
I jacked you into my pod and you
obviously panicked. Now it's
totally fucked! This is a
I.. I was nervous, but I didn't
I was forced to trust you and you
panicked and you neural-surged,
and you blew my pod.
You can get a new pod...
(her heart is breaking)
Pikul, in this pod is the only,
the original version of eXistenZ,
an entire game system that cost
thirty-eight million to develop,
not including pre-release
marketing costs. And I'm locked
outside of my own game! I can't
get it out, or me in!
Are you serious? This is the only
version that exists?
Security is everything these
days. It's the only one and its
stuck inside and it's your fault.
Geller uses her sleeve to clean the drool off the pod with
tragic gentleness, as though it were an injured child.
(fighting back tears)
I've devoted my five most
passionate years to this strange
little creature. And I've never
regretted it, Pikul, because I
knew that it was the only thing
that could give my life any
But why is it my fault? I'm
telling you, I didn't, I did not
neural-surge. I didn't. I didn't
feel any surging.
Gas strolls into the garage, still wearing his work gloves,
which now hold an agricultural-looking shotgun. It is
levelled at Geller.
It isn't your fault. It's my
Pikul looks at Gas in disbelief. His feet begin to writhe in
circles, but he still can't get out of the chair; Geller
backs away from Gas, clutching her pod protectively.
Oh, no, Gas, not you.
I wouldn't try to use that
bioport again, `cept maybe for a
toaster or something.
What's going on?
You're worth a lot of money. If
What are you talking about?
You know what I'm talking about.
It's all over the countryside.
Five million for her dead body.
No questions asked.
But, but... she changed your
Yup. And now I'm gonna change
But wait... Why did you install a
bad port into me?
Seems there's a big bonus for
killing Allegra Geller's latest
game, or whatever it is. I think
I just did that, didn't I?
Geller decides to try another tack. She stops backing away
and begins to slowly approach Gas.
But can you kill a person? Can
you do that, Gas? Can you kill
me? Hide my body. Contact the
crazies. Trust them to pay up.
Hand over my now-decaying,
fucking grotesque corpse. Really
expect them to hand over 5 mil
cash? Don't you ever go to the
I like your script. I want to be
Gas cocks his shotgun. He's really going to do it. Except
that Pikul shoots him right in the mastoid bone, just behind
the ear, with the bioport insertion gun. The back of Gas's
skull shatters and he goes down hard. Pikul drops the gun
and launches himself out of his chair. He falls to his knees
beside Gas's body.
Oh, God, I think he's dead. I
thought I could just distract
You did distract him.
(to Gas's body)
Plug your toaster into that hole,
INT. DEFENDER - NIGHT
Geller drives. Pikul hangs on in the passenger seat.
He wanted to kill you.
That's two people in one day who
wanted to actually kill you.
I've never been more popular.
Allegra, we need help.
You're right. I've got to get
this pod fixed.
EXT. MOUNTAIN ROAD - DAY
The Defender winds its way up a heavily wooded mountain
EXT. CALEDON SKI CLUB - DAY
The Defender turns off a dirt road and rumbles through an
open gate. The stone gateposts bear a coy rustic sign which
reads, CALEDON SKI CLUB - PRIVATE ROAD.
INT. DEFENDER - DAY
We're going skiing?
Nothing in the countryside is
what it seems. It's all
appearance versus reality, and
the reality here is something
EXT. CALEDON SKI CLUBHOUSE - DAY
The Defender pulls up beside the chalet-style ski clubhouse.
As they get out of the truck, the same bizarre insect that
Geller was playing with the night before lands on the
truck's side mirror, narrowly missing Pikul as it flops
around in the air.
Look at that huge bug. It's got
They breed them here. They're not
supposed to get away.
They get out and walk towards the clubhouse.
What if somebody comes up here
and really wants to ski?
Nobody actually physically skis
any more, Pikul. You know that.
I've watched some ski shows.
Downhill racing, Austrian Alps.
INT. CALEDON SKI CLUBHOUSE - DAY
Pikul and Geller enter the clubhouse. There is nobody
around. It looks like a real ski clubhouse, complete with
racks of ski pants and ski boots. But when Pikul examines
the goods, he can see that they're old and cracked and
falling apart. They've been there for years. `
A man comes out of a back room, early sixties, authoritarian
air, eastern-European. He is Kiri Vinokur, and he lights up
when he sees Geller.
My darling Allegra. I am so
pleased to see you here.
Kiri Vinokur, this is my
bodyguard, Ted Pikul.
Hello, yes, I heard the
ridiculous story about this fatwa
against you. The company is
desperately trying to find you.
Is it really serious? Are you in
If I'm her bodyguard, then she's
in grave danger.
There have been a couple of
attempts on my life already.
No! That's unbearable. The
company must stop this. They owe
you every kind of protection.
I don't know if they can do
anything about it. It seems to be
open season on me.
Well, you will be safe here, I
can assure you of that. I will
contact Antenna right away and
have them send some people to
come and collect you.
Kiri, no, don't. You mustn't let
anybody know we're here unless
you have to. I can't be sure that
Antenna is completely safe for
I understand. Yes. The company
draws many eccentric people into
its fold. You can hide in one of
the guest chalets. As long as you
like. I will make sure you get
Geller pats her game-pod case.
.and make sure I don't lose
everything I have in here.
INT. WORKSHOP CHALET - DAY
In the strange atmosphere of the workshop chalet, Vinokur is
taking Geller's pod apart. It is more like surgery on an
alien life form than computer electronics. The room feels
like a weird combination of a hi-tech operating room and a
A cherubic middle-aged man - Landry - who looks more like a
farmhand than an electronics technician, assists Vinokur as
What did you port into?
Really? That's what did all the
It was a flawed installation - my
first. It... it neural-surged.
Allegra says you can fix it.
It fried some very expensive
nerve boards. See? Here. These
are kaput. It's a complex thing.
We use the nervous systems of
specially-bred insects to create
the electronic circuits on our
Only Antenna Research has it.
Wow. And where do the batteries
He's not kidding. He's a total PR
It ports into you, and you are
the power source. Your body, your
nervous system. Your energy. When
you get tired, run down, it won't
Landry here will finish up the
Let's get that nasty bioport out
of you and get a nice, fresh one
in there. We have guest chalets
out back. You're both welcome to
stay. Now where did I put my
bioport-plug puller..? Here it
Vinokur hauls out a device that looks like a pair of spring-
loaded fire tongs.
Lie down on that couch and pull
up your shirt.
INT. GUEST CHALET - NIGHT
In their chalet, a cozy and inn-like'space, Pikul and Geller
examine his new bioport while sitting on one of the chalet's
twin beds. The region around the port looks swollen, bruised
It hurts. I think it's infected.
It's not infected. It's just
excited. It wants action.
She attempts to jack her pod into his port using the Y-
shaped UmbyCord, but he twists away from her.
But I really don't think that I
want action. Me, I mean. The
bearer of the excited bioport.
What I want is... not now. Not
here. I feel too... too exposed.
Geller sighs, then switches into her explaining-the-facts-
of-life-to-a-child mode. They are both aware that they are
replaying an earlier moment.
(cradling her pod)
My baby here has now taken three
major hits, one in the church,
one in the gas station, and one
on the operating table. The only
way I can tell if everything's OK
- the game's not been
contaminated, the pod's not
fucked - is to play eXistenZ with
somebody friendly. Are you
friendly, or are you not?
Pikul swallows nervously, then turns his back to Geller so
that she can port in.
You're telling me this thing will
run off my body's energy?
That's how they work. See? You're
hummin' along already.
Sure enough, he is. Geller deftly twists the second jack
into her own bioport and takes a deep breath.
All right. eXistenZ. Only from
Antenna. Here we go.
You've got a bit of an unfair
advantage, don't you? How can I
possibly compete with the
designer of the system?
You could beat the guy who
invented poker, couldn't you?
Geller flicks the game-pod nipple, and the chalet begins to
melt away around them.
INT. GAME STORE - NIGHT
The chalet melts away and is replaced by a scruffy game
store. A lot of kids and strange adults mill around amongst
the dusty racks and pinball machines, examining packages of
weird games and game devices, muttering secretively to each
other, and it is amongst these dull rows of shelves that
Pikul and Geller find themselves standing.
A cashier works away behind an old-fashioned cash register
that sits on a tall counter. The cashier, a gangly, sallow
young man, glances at Pikul and Geller suspiciously from
time to time.
Pikul feels himself', his clothes, moves his arms, his
tongue. He feels around behind him but there is no game-pod
or UmbyCord in sight.
That was beautiful. I feel...
just like me. Is that kind of
transition normal, a kind of
smooth dissolve from place to
Depends on the style of the game.
You can get jagged, brutal cuts,
slow fades, shimmering little
This is amazing. I had no idea.
We... we're still ourselves, but
we're in the game. Where are we?
It's basically a game store I
used to hang out in as a kid.
Are you serious?
We're ported into a game-pod
together, remember? eXistenZ has
complete access to both our
central nervous systems. Its game
architecture will be based on our
memories, our anxieties, our
Are you serious?
You keep saying that.
(examines a game-pak)
Look at this. Games I've never
heard of. Biological Father. Hit
By A Car. Viral Ecstasy. Chinese
(reads pak back)
In Viral Ecstasy, you are a
virus invading a specific human
body. You create ingenious viral
strategies to cope with the
efforts of the body's immune
system to destroy you..."
Wait a minute. That reminds me.
What precisely is the goal of the
game we're playing now? I mean,
the rules, the objective...
Nobody's ever really said
anything about what you have to
do in eXistenZ.
The beauty of eXistenZ is that it
changes every time you play it.
It adapts to the individuals who
are actually playing it. The
result is that you have to play
the game to find out why you're
playing the game.
But that's kind of cheating,
isn't it? Not to say confusing.
Not at all. It's a much more
organic approach to gaming than
classic, arbitrary, rule-
dominated games. It's the future,
Pikul. You'll see how natural it
Look at this. Could this be the
(picks up a game-pod)
Ever see anything like this
They are looking at a game-pod in a gel-pak that is even
weirder than a tissue-pod. It has a logo and a name -
Suddenly, a hand reaches into the frame and takes the pak
away, puts it neatly back on the rack.
Pikul and Geller look up at a man in his early fifties,
graying, thinning hair, beefy, generally harried and
pugnacious air. The man is Dorsey Nader.
These are delicate. You have to
Yes. I can imagine.
Cortical Systematics is the
latest and the hottest. Not just
a new game, but a new system.
Will it work with an industry
(ignores her question)
I haven't seen you two before,
have I? This is my place.
Haimische, isn't it? Funky?
We're new in town.
Welcome to Dorsey Nader's Game
Emporium. I'm Dorsey Nader. Is
there anything I can help you
We're just looking.
I have what you're looking for.
Nader turns his back on them and walks to the back of the
store. He stops at a warped and dirty door, turns, beckons
to them urgently, trying not to be noticed by the
As Pikul and Geller follow Nader through the door, they do
not escape the notice of the sour-faced young cashier, who
writes something down hurriedly on a pad with an air of
INT. STOCKROOM. GAME STORE - NIGHT
Pikul and Geller find themselves in a stockroom jammed to
overflowing with packaged and naked game-related
merchandise. They are alone with Nader, and they are all
sitting on wooden crates.
Nader rummages on the shelves behind him for a moment, then
turns back to them with a gel-pak in his hands. He studies
them for a moment, hefting the gel-pak in his hand.
Who sent you?
It's none of your businesz who
sent us. We're here, and that's
all that matters.
Pikul is shocked at his own response. He turns to Geller in
horror, worried that he's blown the game already.
Oh God, what happened? I didn't
mean to say that!
It's your character who said it.
It's a kind of schizophrenic
feeling, isn't it? But you'll get
used to it. There are things that
have to be said to advance the
plot and establish the
characters, and those things get
said whether you want to say them
or not. Don't fight it. Just go
But should you be saying that in
front of him? Nader?
Look at him.
Pikul does. Nader doesn't seem to have heard him. In fact,
he doesn't respond at all other than to hum the Antenna
Research corporate-song and tap his fingers repetitively,
caught in a small behavioural loop. Geller chuckles at
What's he doing?
He's gone into a game loop, he's
locked up, and he won't come out
of it until you give him a proper
game line of dialogue.
This is tricky.
Start by repeating your last
line. Include his name so he
knows you're talking.to him.
We're here, Dorsey Nader, and
that's all that matters.
Nader immediately comes out of his loop. He chuckles.
You're right. That is all tha
Pikul smiles, delighted. Now he takes a deep breath, closes
his eyes, relaxes. The line comes.
Well, Nader, you said you had
what we want. We're waiting.
You're going to need these micro-
pods to download your new
identities. I assume that you
both have had those industry
standard bioports you mentioned
Yes, of course, that's right. We
both have bioports.
Here she pauses, looks at Pikul.
We do, don't we?
I assumed we did. I mean, here.
In the game. Of course, we might
We'd better check.
While Nader goes into game lock-up, Geller lifts up her
shirt. Pikul takes a look. Her bioport is there, although
slightly rougher, puckered, more organic than in non-game
Yeah, it's there. Looks a little
different, but it's there.
Geller grabs Pikul's shirt and lifts it. His is there too.
I see what you mean.
Yes, we both have bioports.
Good. Port in and this'll tell
you all you need to know for now.
Pikul and Geller examine the pak, which bears the Cortical
Systematics name and logo. It seems to be a miniature
version of their real-life game-pod.
I'm going to leave while you
finish up here. It wouldn't be
good for us all to be seen
Nader gets up to leave, pauses at the door.
Don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Nader chuckles a very theatrical chuckle, then leaves.
I assume that Nader is our entry
point into the game.
Yeah. Kinda disappointing.
Yeah. Not a very well-drawn
character. And his dialogue was
Do we blame ourselves for that?
The bad dialogue? Or would it be
bad no matter who was ported in?
The game engine is just getting
used to us. It'll get more daring
once it warms up.
Geller fumbles the micro-pod out of its vacuum-pak shell.
She reads the instructions on the back.
OK. The pods are so small they
plug directly into the bioport.
Geller delicately twists the end of the micro-pod into
Pikul's bioport. The micro-pod changes colour, pulses,
ripples, and then slowly flows and wriggles its way into
Pikul's bioport until it has completely disappeared.
The whole pod just disappeared
into your back.
It disappeared into my back?!
It... it's in my spine? It's
winding its way around my spinal
Don't panic, it's just a game. Do
you feel anything yet?
(controlling his fear)
No, I don't. Not a thing. I don't
feel a thing. Uh, do you want me
to do you?
They change positions. Pikul ports in the micro-pod and it
duly crawls its way into Geller's bioport. Tenderly, as
though kissing a cut to make it better, Pikul kisses her
back, low near her bioport. Geller whirls around with sudden
What the hell was that?
That wasn't me. That was my game
character. I wouldn't have done
that. Not here, anyway.
She pauses, then kisses him on the mouth, hard.
You're right. Our characters are
obviously supposed to jump on
each other. Probably to create
emotional tension when danger
happens. No use fighting it.
What about our new identities? Do
you feel yours yet?
They'll take care of themselves.
I'm very worried about my body.
Geller stops, sits up.
I mean, where are our real
bodies? Are they all right? Are
they hungry? What if there's
(kissing and caressing
They're just where we left them,
sitting quietly, eyes closed.
Just like meditating.
(reluctantly kissing and
I don't know. I feel really
Don't sweat it. All your senses
are still operating. You'll pop
right out of the game if there's
They begin to make seriously hot love amrngst the game paks
and cartons of replacement UmbyCords. And then the game
store melts away around them.
INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY LINE - DAY
Pikul finds himself sitting at an immensely long bench in
the process of assembling insect motherboards along with
many other workers. Pikul can still feel the warmth of
Geller's body, but she's nowhere to be seen. A gritty,
narrow conveyor belt runs down the middle of the bench, upon
which floats an endless stream of motherboard parts which
the workers pick off as they need them. The belt begins and
ends in the anonymous smoky innards of the building.
The place, a high-ceilinged pre-fab, long and narrow with
hundreds of blanked-out windows, houses a game-pod assembly
line. Pikul looks down to find himself wearing a photo-ID
card clipped to his shirt pocket that tells him he is
somebody named LARRY ASHEN. He has to twist the card around
because, of course, from his vantage point it is upside
Tryin' to remember who you are?
Pikul snaps his head up to see a long-haired, morose-looking
worker sitting next to him, snickering. Mocking Pikul, he
twists his own card around, comically bunching up his work
shirt so he can read his own name, which is YEVGENY NOURISH.
Hey, it works! I must be Yevgeny
Nourish leans over to squint at Pikul's name tag.
And you... you are new to the
Yes. I... I'm... very new. Did
you say trout farm?
You know - raise baby trout from
eggs and then stock the rivers
Entire place used to be a trout
farm. Seems like most everything
used to be something else,
Pikul looks around him. The place is humming, but Geller is
still nowhere in sight. The workers are small-town locals o_°
a wide range of ages.
Pikul looks down at his own hands, which seem to,know what
to do: place glue on the boards, glue them down to a resin
frame using a template, insert needle-like electrodes into
the bodies of certain epoxied insects. The insect boards,
Pikul notes, are actually whole insects coated in epoxy and
frozen together like a sick collage. At least, here in the
game they are.
Pikul is now automatically doing flashy moves with the odd
materials in front of him with great dexterity. Nourish
takes note of this.
I (with admiration)
You might be new but you seem to
know what you're doing.
It surprises me more than it
Nourish moves back to the insect motherboard that he has
been working on, then leans over again exactly as he did the
first time. It has the effect of an instant replay, but not
You might be new but you seem to
know what you're doing.
Pikul realizes he hasn't given the right answer. He now just
lets it come without thinking.
I, ah... I've been trained by the
Nourish unlocks and looks around with a delicate
So have I. Where do you plan to
I'm new here. I have no plans for
I suggest the Chinese restaurant
in the forest. Everybody knows
where it is. Just ask.
Won't you be going there too?
I have other plans for lunch. But
I do suggest that you order the
special. And don't take no for an
All right, I'll do that.
Nourish turns back to his task and begins to work away as
though Pikul didn't exist.
Pikul takes this cue to go back to his own board and is soon
preoccupied with testing the board's circuits by porting it
into a test UmbyCord that uncoils from the center of the
bench. His strange reverie, watching himself work on auto-
pilot at this bizarre task, is soon interrupted by a worker
pushing a canvas and metal cart with bicycle wheels. The
worker parks the cart behind Pikul and taps him on the
They need this in the back room.
They asked for you.
The worker shuffles off, leaving the cart behind him. Pikul
turns to Nourish.
What's that mean?
It means that they want you in
the back room. They need more
insect boards for the pod
Should I just get up and go
Yeah. I'll take care of your
Pikul gets up to go. Nourish grabs him by the arm and
Remember. The Chinese restaurant
I order the special.
INT. TROUT FARM. POD ASSEMBLY BAYS - DAY
Pikul enters the huge back wing of the Trout Farm and walks
along a rampway, pushing his cart past the pod assembly-bay
area. There, pods very much like the one he and Geller are
ported into back home are being assembled - motherboards
inserted, internal ports connected, fleshy housings like the
corpses of small amphibians sewn up - by small teams of
The bays themselves are old horse stalls with straw still
covering the dirt floors. But because the pods are primarily
organic, the teams are more like groups of masked surgical
workers in a series of impossibly small and filthy operating
rooms than, let's say, auto-assembly teams in a progressive
As Pikul wheels his cart past each stall, he digs into the
cart's canvas bag and delivers insect boards wrapped in
brown wax paper to the eagerly awaiting pod teams.
In the last bay, one of the masked surgeons grabs him by the
hand instead of taking the proferred motherboard pnd leads
himm to an isolated corner. Her ID card says she is BARB
BRECKEN, and her photo says she is Geller.
(slipping off her mask)
I saw you make contact, Larry
Ashen. What did the guy on the .l
assembly line say to you?
Pikul's expression shows that there is a return game line
welling up in his mouth, tickling his tongue, perhaps.
Perversely, he fights it, but it comes out anyway.
He told me where to have lunch.
EXT. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WOODS - DAY
A ragged stream of pod-assembly workers trickles along a
densely wooded gravel path towards a very un-Chinese
Victorian red-brick farmhouse. A small river flows not more
than fifty feet from the restaurant, mimicking the movement
of the line of workers.
The workers all file past a sign on the lawn in front of the
building which reads, MONA ZHANG'S BEIJING CUISINE.
INT. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WOODS - DAY
Pikul and Geller are seated at a round Formica-covered table
with a lazy Susan serving wheel in the centre of it, all
very Mandarin in style. Other workers sit sullenly at their
table, wordless, suspicious.
A restaurant dog, a mongrel with a lot a heavy, collie-like
fur, lies basking in a pane of sunlight. in a corner.
The waiter, a young, athletic Chinese man, comes over
bringing rice and tea.
We have nice sea bass today.
Shall I bring it for everyone?
Pikul and Geller exchange a look. Pikul shrugs OK.
We want the special.
The waiter looks stunned. The others at their table look
distressed. The waiter seems to lock up, almost freeze-
Did you hear me, Chinese waiter?
We want the special.
The waiter unfreezes, smiles grimly.
The special is for special
occasions. I cannot give you the
But this is a special occasion.
Pikul pauses, waiting for the proper game line to
materialize in his mouth. Finally, it does. He gestures
It's her birthday.
The waiter locks up for a moment, then unfreezes.
A birthday is a special occasion.
I will therefore bring the
special for everybody.
The waiter walks away. The others at the table get up and
move away, drift over to other tables with occasional
furtive backward glances at Pikul and Geller.
I guess the special isn't very
But you know, really, don't you?
You don't have to guess. I mean,
it's your game, your little
I don't know. You have to
understand that, to understand
what we've really created with
You're telling me, for example,
that you don't know what the
Correct. I don't.
Or why we ordered it.
We ordered it because another
game character told you to.
That's a clue we can't ignore.
But that's just basic games
I want to put the game on pause.
Geller just looks at him, puzzled. Pikul panics.
The game can be paused, can't it?
I mean, all games can be paused,
Sure, yeah, but why? What's
wrong? Aren't you dying to see
what's special about the special?
I'm feeling a little disconnected
from my real life. I'm kind of
losing touch with the texture of
it, you know what I mean? I mean,
I actually think there's an
element of psychosis involved
here. I mean, I don't know where
my body really is, or where
reality is, what I've actually
done, or not done.
That's a great sign. It means
your nervous system is fully
engaging with the game
architecture. The game is a lot
more fun when it starts to feel
realer than real.
Pikul stands up and screams at the top of his lungs.
eXistenZ is paused!
The Chinese restaurant melts away.
INT. GUEST CHALET - DAY
The guest chalet melts back up around them. Pikul looks
around. They are still sitting on the bed, ported into
Geller's pod together.
Did I do that? I guess I did.
So how does it feel?
Your real life. The one you came
Just sitting here, it feels
completely unreal. I'm sure you
knew that would happen.
You're stuck now, aren't you? You
want to go back to the Chinese
restaurant because there's
nothing happening here. We're
safe. It's boring.
Worse than that. I'm not sure
here, where we are, is real at
all. This feels like the game.
And you... you're beginning to
t1 feel a bit like a game character
Did we really make love to each
It feels like we did.
Our characters did. I'm sure it
would be very different if we
I... I'm actually just like that
in real life. You got the real
Ted Pikul there, in the stockroom
of the game store.
Well, you didn't get the real
Allegra Geller, I can tell you
She kisses him gently.
No. In real life I tend to lose
control. It can get messy.
Let's go back.
Pikul looks down at the pod. He flicks the PLAY nipple. The
room melts down around them and is replaced by the Chinese
INT. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WOODS - DAY
Pikul and Geller are back at their table in the Chinese
restaurant. The waiter is approaching their table. He
proudly sets down a series of dishes on the lazy Susan.
Special order for the birthday
girl. Hope you enjoy it very
In the dishes are a variety of cooked reptiles, amphibians,
fish and birds, all weirdly mutated and presented in a
bizarrely beautiful fashion.
I think I've lost my appetite.
A shame. Mutant creatures provide
new and previously unimagined
Shall I clear all this away?
Geller sees that this is a crucial game moment.
No, it looks terrific. Thank you.
The waiter nods.
Very good. Enjoy.
The waiter leaves. Geller watches him go, suspicious. When
she turns back to Pikul, she is shocked to see that he has
served out most of the creatures to himself and is avidly
stripping the meat off their bones.
Pikul, what are you doing?
I don't know. I find this
disgusting but I can't help
Pikul looks up from his big bowl, which is rapidly filling
with creature parts. His fingers are'slimy and sticky, but
he doesn't stop, his fingers working expertly on their own.
Good? You think this is good?
Yeah. It's a genuine game urge.
It's something that your game
character was born to do. Don't
I am fighting it, but it isn't
doing me any good.
Pikul is now snapping together bits and pieces of bone,
gristle and flesh, a grotesque Lego set. When he's finished,
he's made a gun very much like the one that was used in the
attempted assassination in the church.
Omigod, this looks awfully
familiar. You sure this is OK?
It should be OK.
Now Pikul reaches into his mouth, pulls out a bridge of
three teeth - one of them gold-filled - and loads them into
the gristly magazine.
Do you have that bridge in real
Absolutely not. My teeth are
perfect. Don't ask me how I knew
this thing was in my mouth.
It probably wasn't until you
ordered the special.
He slaps the magazine into the handle, then pulls the slide
back and releases it so that there is now a toothy round in
Then with a smile, Pikul points the weapon at Geller.
Death to the demoness Allegra
(suddenly very uncertain)
That's not funny!
Pikul looks at Geller and sees that there is genuine terror
in her eyes.
Sorry, I couldn't resist. But you
know... I do feel the urge to
kill someone here.
Geller grips the edge of her bowl of hot-and-sour soup - the
handiest weapon she has.
I need to kill our waiter.
Oh, well, that makes sense.
When he comes over, do it. Don't
But everything in this game is so
realistic. I don't think I really
You won't be able to stop. You
might as well enjoy it.
"Free will" is obviously not a
big factor in this little world
It's like real life - there's
just enough to make it
- Pikul spots the waiter making his way across the room
towards them, a big smile on his face.
He's too nice. I won't do it.
The waiter arrives at their table.
What can I do to make your lunch
Pikul lifts the gun and points it at the waiter.
I found this in my soup and I'm
Pikul fires. The tooth-bullet hits the waiter in the
cheekbone. A chunk of the waiter's cheekbone comes off and
his head jerks back like a fighter taking a stiff jab.
The waiter's sweet face instantly transforms into a hideous,
angry, snarling mask of hatred. He pulls a meat cleaver out
of his jacket.
Geller immediately throws her bowl of hot-and-sour soup into
the waiter's face. The waiter screams, then wildly wipes the
noodles and goop out of his eyes. He raises the cleaver over
The waiter swings and lunges across the table, managing only
to hack the tip of the gun off. Pikul is shocked to see the
gun begin to bleed. The waiter, sprawling across the table,
screams as he tries to reach Geller with his cleaver. Pikul
fires into the waiter's shrieking, open mouth - a tooth-
bullet into teeth.
A piece of the waiter's skull comes off like a piece of
coconut, the gold-filled tooth now flattened and embedded in
it. The gun is bleeding all over Pikul's hand now. He drops
it in disgust.
The restaurant dog comes out of nowhere, picks the gun up,
and runs off with it under a table, where he crouches down
and starts to gnaw on it, growling.
Pikul stands up shakily, begins to become aware of the
strange, tense stillness of the other patrons in the
(loudly, to room)
St's all right, just a little
misunderstanding over the check.
Pay no attention and enjoy your
To his surprise, the patrons actually turn back to their
meals, albeit with a certain sinister reluctance.
Pikul looks around wildly.
I feel a serious game urge to get
out of here!
Through the porthole in one of the pair of metal-clad
kitchen doors, Geller spots someone wearing a che'f's hat,
someone who is wildly beckoning to them.
Through the kitchen! That way!
INT. KITCHEN. CHINESE RESTAURANT - DAY
Geller and Pikul enter the kitchen and take a look around.
There are mutant amphibians and reptiles hung up everywhere,
in bowls and on chopping blocks. The kitchen workers have
all turned to look at the intruders.
Suddenly, a cook steps forward from around the door. We can
now see that it is Nourish in a chef's outfit.
Did you like the meal I prepared
Yes. It was very... revealing.
It certainly was for me. You both
passed our little test with
Why did the Chinese waiter have
A waiter hears many things spoken
when people are relaxed and
eating. A waiter has many
opportunities for betrayal.
He betrayed you?
He betrayed us. Out this way,
They go out a side door, and find themselves walking along
the river that links the Chinese restaurant and the Trout
EXT. THE RIVER - DAY
The trio walk along the bank of the river that feeds the
Trout Farm. Nourish points out a connected series of rock-
lined, internally-lighted pools, some stagnant, like ponds,
and some clear, with river water running through them.
See there, the breeding pools.
The pools are all alive with strange creatures, mutated
fish, amphibians, and, along the small, muddy terraces that
border the pools, reptiles. Like the dysfunctional insect at
the gas station, these creatures do not work very well. They
float and swim belly up, lie on their sides at the bottom of
their pools, flop and flounder around, and in general,
ostentatiously fail to function.
Is that where you caught today's
The restaurant is controlled by
us. We raise these mutant
creatures as food and that is our
cover, but of course, we are also
raising them as components for
undetectable and hypoallergenic
weapons. Right under the noses of
our enemies. And speaking of our
enemies, it's important that you
go back to work at Cortical
Systematics. We need to maintain
as many agents there as we can.
I'll take care of the mess at the
The Trout Farm is owned by
Their corporate slogan should be,
"Enemies of Reality".
A glazed look comes over Pikul. He begins to speak like a
Reality is a fragile thing. Most
people think that reality must of
course be the most solid thing,
but it isn't. Reality is
threatened now more than ever. It
is being eroded and it is
washing away in the deforming
storm of non-reality, which
masquerades as reality, and
eventually replaces it. Deformed
and crippled and limping and
hideous, threatening to engulf us
Geller looks at Pikul in admiring disbelief.
Where did that come from?
The game made me do it.
Nourish is also impressed. He smiles broadly, then takes
Pikul in his arms and hugs him, then Geller.
We love you two now, now that you
have proven to be true and
trustworthy Realists. We'll be in
Nourish turns around and walks back-towards the restaurant.
"Enemies of Reality"? Or does it
really mean, enemies of eXistenZ?
Are the Realists the game-life
version of the Anti-
want to kill you?
I wouldn't take it too seriously.
Of course you wouldn't. But maybe
But why is the name Cortical
We saw it everywhere in Dorsey
Nader's game store, remember?
Yes. So that makes it the game-
life version of our own company.
Cortical Systematics is
equivalent to Antenna Research in
the real world.
That's probably fair to say.
So, then, do we meekly go back to
work and say nothing? It sounds
as though Nourish and his
Realists are preparing to
sabotage the Trout Farm. Before
you know it, they'll be planning
to assassinate game designers.
We're just characters in here.
Don't mix your real-life
loyalties into it or you'll lose
Then what do we do next?
INT. GAME STORE - NIGHT
We are close on a Cortical Systematics logo on a game-pak.
As Pikul and Geller pretend to examine the merchandise, they
scan the game store for Nader. The store is quite crowded -
same style of customers, maybe even some of the same faces,
different clothes. They don't see Nader.
Geller goes up to the cashier, the same gangly, sallow,
bespectacled young man who was there the first time.
I'm looking for Dorsey Nader. Is
Say that again?
Is Dorsey Nader here?
The cashier glances around the store, then locks the
Come with me. He's in the back.
The cashier leads them through the store towards the
stockroom door. As they move amongst the customers, both
Pikul and Geller feel that they are being scutinized
carefully by shoppers who turn their eyes away from them at
the last moment, so that they can't be absolutely certain.
And as for us - have we glimpsed some characters from the
game that we have already seen? Possibly even Wittold Levi
from the first scene in the church, and Frances the limo
driver, and Gas? We aren't positive.
INT. STOCKROOM. GAME STORE - NIGHT
The cashier closes the door behind them, then gestures
towards the back of the stockroom.
You want him, there he is.
Nader lies dead, the unnatural purple of his face eerily
matched by the veiny purple streaks in the UmbyCord around
In response, the cashier starts rummaging around on one of
the shelves. He soon finds what he was looking for, and
turns around to face them. In his hand is a grotesque,
slightly chewed gristle gun - the one Pikul assembled in the
Chinese restaurant - in his hand.
You shouldn't have killed the
He was your contact at the Trout
Farm. A damn good man.
(pause; he waggles the gun)
His dog brought me this.
The cashier toys with the gun's claw-like hammer.
But we were contacted there by
Yevgeny Nourish. He seemed to
know exactly who we were.
That's because Nader tipped him
off that you were coming. Nader
was a mole for Cortical
You're with the Realist
Yes. I was placed here to keep an
eye on Nader.
The cashier puts the gun back on the shelf.
If Nourish isn't our real
contact, who is he?
Nourish is a double agent for
Cortical Systematics. He was
working with Nader to subvert the
Realist cause, and doing it
After all, he got you to
assassinate your own contact. But
now you're going to put a stop to
I assume that you both have had
spinal port inserts, bioports,
Do you both realize that neither
of you can be buried on hallowed
ground because of these... these
mutilations? Does your bioport
manual tell you that?
Are you trying to talk us into
having them removed?
No, no. In fact, you would be
useless to us without them. We
Realists are forbidden to have
them, and so we have to use
people like you on occasion.
I don't understand. Are you
wanting us to jack a game into
Game? No. Not a game. A weapon.
(a creepy smile)
You go back to the Trout Farm,
and in a familiar place, you find
a mouldy old wicker basket with a
thread-bare canvas cover.
How will we know what to do?
(an even creepier' smile)
Even a child would know what to
Someone begins to knock loudly on a door very near by. The
cashier is oblivious, but'both Pikul and Geller hear it. The
stockroom begins to morph away as its objects are replaced
one at a time by chalet objects.
INT. GUEST CHALET - NIGHT
Someone is knocking at the chalet door.
VINOKUR (0. S. )
Sorry to interrupt you kids, but
I thought you'd better have
something to eat. We knocked on
your door a few times to invite
you to dinner...
Pikul and Geller sit on the bed, game-pod between them,
UmbyCord joining them to each other and to the pod. They
look at each other. Pikul shrugs.
Come on in.
The door opens slowly to reveal Vinokur, who stands there
uncertainly, holding a large tray.
..and when we got no answer, I
figured you were playing eXistenZ
to try out your new pod, and your
new bioport. Everything's all
right, I take it?
An awkward moment, as though Vinokur has caught the pair
having illicit sex. Vinokur moves into the room towards the
Can I leave this here for you?
Don't bother unporting. I just
had to be sure our star designer
was in a good place and that
she'd recovered her multi-
million-dollar game system from
her defective pod.
Vinokur puts down the tray, which holds several plates
covered by smaller, inverted plates to keep the food warm.
Thanks so much, Kiri. This is
very sweet of you.
So I take it she has.
Oh, yes, sure. That's why we're
so spaced out.
We were right into it, weren't
Yeah, we were. And it's amazing.
Well, that's a relief. I'll leave
you two alone. You can leave the
tray outside your door when
What is that you've brought?
Believe it or not, it's Chinese
food. There's a great Chinese
restaurant on the other side of
the escarpment road.
Vinokur turns to go.
Have you heard anything yet? I
mean, about the eXistenZ test
seminar and the shooting?
Oh, yes. It's come over all the
media now. You've never been more
famous. Your face is everywhere,
which of course just.makes it
(a disturbed pause)
What? Tell me.
They've announced the possibility
that Antenna will delay the
release of your new system
indefinitely, until they can
determine how widespread support
for this fanatical group really
is. I don't approve, myself. I
don't think we should bend one
degree to extremists.
Support for the fanatics? What
does that mean?
Well, you know. They're all
coming out of the woodwork now.
(heavy, defeated sigh)
A lot of people are taking the
opportunity to jump on the anti-
game bandwagon. They've now heard
rumours about what the eXistenZ
system is, and they say we've
gone too far psychologically,
medically, socially, you name it.
And I'm afraid I wouldn't put it
past our competitors to be
involved in this, to try to whip
up public opinion and kill our
new system before it gets born.
You're sure you don't want me to
contact Antenna, even just to see
what they have to say?
Not yet, Kiri. Thanks.
Vinokur smiles gently and leaves.
(gesturing towards the
Your friend Vinokur is getting
shaky. I think he's going to turn,
you in to Antenna.
Sounds like you might approve of
It might be the safest thing. Are
Are you kidding?
Me neither. I'm terrified to look
under the plates.
This "support for the fanatics"
thing doesn't sound too good.
Maybe we should stop...
We can't stop. I've been noticing
some new... glitches. I'm not
sure what they mean. I'm not sure
the game is OK.
Listen, to be honest, I find your
game very confusing. I'm not sure
I want to go back in there,
because I'm not convinced I'm
going to keep coming out. Do you
really like that feeling?
Yeah, I love it.
When eXistenZ is released, it's
gonna wipe the competition off
the face of the earth.
It really will do that, yes.
Don't hurt me, Pikul. Don't make
me go back in alone. Play with
Allegra, I'm worried that your
game will wipe me off the face of
the earth. I'm thinking I was
right never to have a bioport
(sly, quick smile)
But you have one now. And you're
She mischievously flicks the pod nipple, and the chalet
melts away around them.
INT. TROUT FARM SECURITY - DAY
Trout-farm workers shuffle along a murky pre-fab corridor
towards a smoke-enshrouded security checkpoint. A puffy-
faced woman with a clipboard is walking down the lineup
checking faces and ID cards. With her we discover Pikul and
Geller, once again wearing their ID cards which identify
them as LARRY ASHEN and BARB BRECKEN.
That was cruel. I don't want to
It wasn't cruel, it was
desperate. C'mon, Pikul. You've
just got a bad case of first-time
I don't like it here. I don't
know what's going on. We're
blundering around together in
this unformed world, whose rules
and objectives are largely
indecipherable, or even Possibly
non-existent, always on the verge
of being killed by forces we
That sounds like my game, all
They are now close enough to the security cubicle'at the end
of the corridor to see the workers ahead of them being
frisked by hand, then scanned by a wand similar to the one
that Pikul used at the church.
That sounds like a game that's
not going to be easy to market.
But it's a game that everybody's
already playing! Existence, it's
INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY LINE - DAY
Pikul and Geller have passed through security and now enter
the assembly-line arena. They see Nourish at his accustomed
place on the line, hunched over a pile of insect
motherboards and now seeming, somehow, menacing, predatory
in profile. The pair skirt the assembly-line area, carefully
scanning as they go, but there is no wicker basket to be
INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY BAYS - DAY
Pikul and Geller walk down the aisle connecting the assembly
bays. Other workers drift casually in and out, preparing for
their day in a desultory fashion.
The cashier said it would be in a
familiar place. Is there such a
My assembly bay.
They make their way to the last assembly bay and slip inside
it. There is, for the moment, nobody else there, but several
pods have been left on the work tables half-assembled.
Pikul spots it first, in the far corner: a large, mouldy
wicker basket in the opposite corner. Something lumpy in it
is covered by a thread-bare canvas sheet.
Is that it over there?
They stroll over to the basket. Geller kneels down and
carefully begins to unwrap it while Pikul stands guard.
I'd say it's exactly as
The final wrap comes off. In the basket is a necrotic,
purpled, very diseased-looking pod.
God, it's ugly. Even for a game-
I have a terrible urge to port
into it. What about you?
(he thinks she's joking)
Oh, sure. Yes. Desperate to port
Geller steps over to a bunch of UmbyCords draped over a peg
and strips one off. She sits down on a rotting wooden
folding chair next to the death-pod's basket and ports in
one end of the UmbyCord.
Here we go. Wanna give me a hand?
You're not serious! I mean,
that's a diseased pod! Once you
port into that, you become,
(a quick smile)
Exactly. Help me.
Pikul kneels beside her as she pulls up her shirt to reveal
her bioport. Geller hands him the free end of the UmbyCord
and he ports it into her.
How long does it take for the
infection to take hold?
No time at all.
And then you quietly port into
all the other pods and spread the
infection to them...
I'm gonna unport you now.
Pikul tries to unport Geller, but her bioport has swollen
and seized the jack. He gives the UmbyCord a tug.
(in sudden pain)
0, God, don't! That really hurts!
Pikul lets go. The death-pod, triggered off by Pikul's
attempt to disconnect Geller, now begins to convulse in
peristaltic waves in its wicker basket. Pikul looks around
desperately and spots a clutch of tools hanging from nails
on the wall.
I'm going to cut you free!
No, don't, I'm afraid!
But Pikul seizes a crude linoleum knife used for trimming
oversized motherboards and, with three erratic slashes at
the quivering UmbyCord, hacks her loose. Blood immediately
pours out of both ends of the severed cord.
Pikul. I'm bleeding to death.
Panic-stricken, Pikul steps on Geller's end of the cord to
stop the bleeding. It seems to work, but Geller moans
I'm sorry! I don't know what else
I know what to do.
Pikul twists awkwardly around to see Yevgeny Nourish
standing just behind him. He is in the process of slipping a
large propane torch off its wall hook.
I know exactly what to do.
Nourish unscrews the gas valve and ignites the torch.
Death to Realism!
Nourish turns the blazing torch on the pod in the basket.
Where the cone of flame hits the pod, it begins to shrivel,
crackle, sputter fat. The pod itself tries to ripple away
from the searing flame as though it were alive. Nourish
laughs and begins to play the cone over the entire surface
of the pod.
Geller sinks to the ground in exhaustion, holds on to
The death-pod now swells and bubbles under the torch's
flame, then explodes with a dull whump.
INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY LINE - DAY
A huge cloud, speckled black and gray, billows upwards and
floats out over the intersecting walls of the stalls and
into the main area of the Trout Farm's assembly line, where
it begins to settle like granular. ash on the startled
INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY BAYS - NIGHT
i Horrified, Nourish watches the thick cloud of infectious
spores floating out of his reach.
Gathering up her last shreds of energy, Geller suddenly
shoves a startled Pikul off her cord and picks up the
linoleum knife from where Pikul dropped it.
Trailing her bloody cord, she lunges at Nourishi driving the
rusty, curved blade into his back with great force. Nourish
turns to Geller, the torch circling towards her, wavering.
He tries to touch her with the flame, staggers.
Death... death to the demoness
Barb Brecken... to the...
Death to who?
(he fingers his ID card)
Oh, yeah... Barb...
Nourish drops the torch, falls to the ground and snaps into
the foetal position. A wall of flame roars up around him,
fueled by the straw, wood, canvas, pod-oils. Pikul jumps
over to Geller and picks up the trailing cord, twists it in
his hands until it stops bleeding.
All four walls of the assembly bay are on fire now. The
doorway is a flapping sheet of flame. Mixing with the
swelling rush of the flame are the sounds of the entire
plant going on alert: yells, screams, sirens, running feet,
doors being slammed open and closed.
Pikul holds Geller tightly. She is limp, weak, drained in
I think we just lost the game.
But now, strange, anomalous objects begin to appear out a
nowhere in the flames - a chair, a tv set, a bath tub, a
table, objects emerging into the game from the quest chalet.
After a moment's confusion, Pikul smiles.
Or maybe not.
And sure enough, the Trout Farm and its flames and its black
cloud melt away.
INT. GUEST CHALET - NIGHT
As the guest chalet melts up around them, Pikul finds
himself back on the bed, as he expected; but he is still
embracing the swooning Geller, which he had not expected.
Allegra, we're back home. What's
the matter, what's wrong?
As Geller swims back up into full consciousness, she begins
to talk, mumbling at first, then with terrible clarity.
Pikul. It's here, it's happened.
It's come back here with us. We
brought it back with us from
Brought what back? I can't
understand what you're saying.
We brought the disease back with
us. My pod is diseased.
As though realizing the implications of what she's saying
for the first time, Geller twists away from Pikul and begins
to fumble with her UmbyJack.
Oh God, I'm really going to lose
it, I'm going to lose my game!
Unport me! C'mon, unport me!
Pikul unports her, then begins to tug at his own jack. When
he takes a close look at the pod, he can see that it looks -
Geller jumps off the bed and yanks open her bag on the
table. She pulls out a tiny hypodermic syringe, unwraps it,
flicks the bubbles out of it, falls to her knees beside the
I'm coming, I'm coming!
Geller jabs the pod with the needle. As sne pushes in the
plunger, she starts to massage it with her free hand, rub
it, prod it. She's so close to it we think she might give it
But this can't be possible. How
can a game event emerge into real
There's a very weird reality-
bleed-through effect happening
here. I'm not sure I get it.
Pikul finally gets his UmbyCord unplugged.
What's in that needle?
It's an anti-viral serum. It
sometimes works if you get it in
Unconsciously, Pikul scratches at his bioport. Geller fixes
on him with strange intensity.
Lemme see your bioport.
Lemme see it!
Pikul turns and shows it to her. She begins to examine it
with microscopic, clinical attention.
I know what happened. It's
Vinokur, that bastard.
He gave you a new bioport, didn't
He gave you an infected bioport
so that my pod would die and so
would my game-system.
I'm infected? Wait a minute!
The poor thing was trying to tell
us that it was sick by
introducing the theme of disease
into our game.
The theme of disease? I'm fucking
reall infected! Is it going to
crawl up my spine and rot my
(suddenly all business)
All right, don't panic. I've got
something that will help you.
Brusquely wiping away her tears, Geller goes over to her bag
and takes out a cork-shaped plastic capsule. She snaps open
the capsule to reveal a knurled, plug-like electronic
I'm going to seal up your bioport
with this anti-viral resonator.
Geller bends over Pikul and works the device into his
bioport until it's flush with his skin.
(inserting the device)
It uses the Umby pick-ups for
power. Should cleanse all your
porting channels of infection in
a few hours. It'11 give you a
little skin buzz when it's done.
Of course, we can't play until
(controlling his panic)
Yeah, great. Now, listen. This
could be critical. Were you
really saying that Vinokur is an
agent of the Anti-
eXistenZialists? Because if he
is, if he's with them, then we
Oh, God! Pikul, my pod's dying.
Sure enough, the thing is quivering, rippling, convulsing,
I can't help it! I can't do
anything for it!
Geller falls to her knees beside the pod.
As though triggered by this action, an explosion in the
nearest chalet blows the windows and the door out of the
guest chalet. Pikul and Geller are knocked to the floor by
the impact of the blast.
Waves of heat and debris billow into the room.
A moment of eery silence, and then Pikul and Geller peek
wide-eyed over the-edge of the bed. Flames now engulf the
nearby chalet, all too clearly visible throught the
shattered window frames.
Sounds of pandemonium begin to well up from the hills below,
and then a figure steps boldly in through the doorway. When
the flamelight flickers over his face, Pikul and Geller are
stunned to see that it is the cashier, and he is cradling a
real-life submachine gun in his arms.
The cashier screams at the bewildered and terrified pair.
The uprising has begun! The whole
place is on fire! Let's go!
You've got to get out of here.
They'll be looking for you.
The cashier? He's a game
character! How can he be here?
I don't know! I don't know!
The cashier strides into the room and pulls her to her feet.
She tries to pick up her pod, but the cashier tugs her away
Leave that rotting piece of meat
here. It's done its job. Let it
But my game! My game's inside it.
I don't want my game to die.
The cashier unslings his submachine gun, cocks it, and blows
the pod into streaks of slime, flesh, and slivers of insect-
board. Geller is in shock. Pikul turns her to face him,
speaks' forcefully right into her face, shuts everything else
Allegra, listen to me. I think
we're still inside the game. I
think your real pod's out there
somewhere, somewhere safe. I
think it's OK to let go of this
one, this pod. It's not the real
A Molotov cocktail comes sailing into the room and shatters
against the bed. The bed ignites with an explosive whump.
Everybody out! now!
The three of them scramble out into the fiery night.
EXT. CALEDON SKI-CLUB COMPOUND - NIGHT
The cashier leads Pikul and Geller out of the guest chalet
and down the mountain path. The chalet next to theirs begins
to implode as they scurry by it.
As they flee, they realize that all the chalets are on fire.
There are people trying to fight the fires, running
r frantically everywhere with hand-held extinguishers. There
is also scattered gunfire, but who's firing on whom is
impossible to tell.
EXT. HILLTOP - NIGHT
The cashier now leads them up to the top of a hill.
Up here. We can see everything
What is it that we're seeing?
The victory of Realism. And you
were part of it.
The death of eXistenZ. And we
were part of it.
The cashier turns on her with his gun. He snaps out his old
clip and slams home a new one. He cocks the gun.
There's just one more thing.
What are you doing? We're on your
How could you be? How could
Allegra Geller, the world's
premiere game designer, be on our
(off their bewildered
Oh, Y93.' We know who you are. You
can't hide inside a game forever.
Something's slipped over the
edge, here, Allegra. Something's
There. You see what I mean. You
see the problem.
The cashier raises his gun to fire at Geller, but before he
can pull the trigger, he jolts backwards and falls twitching
to the ground.
From the shadows of the trees, backlit by the fiery
landscape below, steps Kiri Vinokur. In his hand he holds
the gristle gun which Pikul assembled in the Chinese
I tried to find you. Thank God I
got here in time.
(pause; waggles the gun)
My dog brought me this.
You didn't get here in time. My
game is dead.
You murdered my game.
No, just your pod. I replicated
the entire contents of your pod
when I fixed your nerve boards.
They're in safe-keeping. They're
all in one piece.
You copied eXistenZ?
Allegra, come over to Cortical
Systematics. Yes, yes, Cortical
Systematics. I'm defecting and so
are all the Antenna Research top
brass, Pellatt, Melzack, Sherrin,
You're a spy for Cortical
Wait a minute. Cortical
Systematics is just the qame
version, it's only...
Not a spy, exactly. I think of
myself as a personnel exchange
engineer. If you want to be
reunited with your creation,
you'll come over to us. eXistenZ,
by Allegra Geller. Only from
Only from Antenna Research.
But why stay with them? Look at
that mess down there. How could
you trust Antenna again, when
they've endangered you like this?
Geller seems to have lost the thread. She wanders over to
the cashier's body and disentangles his submachine gun from
(referring to cashier)
You know, this guy was actually
going to kill me.
Vinokur looks to Pikul for support.
Can you talk to her? I mean, we
can take you with us too.
But before Pikul can respond, Geller, now sitting next to
the cashier's body on the grass, opens fire at Vinokur with
the submachine gun. Vinokur falls with a startled expression
on his face.
Pikul, absolutely horrified, runs at Geller and kicks the
weapon out of her hand, picks it up himself.
What the fuck are you doing?!
You've killed him! Are you gonna
kill me next?
C'mon, Pikul. He's only a game
character. And I didn't like the
way he was messing with my mind.
Didn't you? You didn't like that
and so you killed him?
He was only a game character.
But Allegra. What if we're not in
the game anymore?
Huh? If... if we... we're not?
If we're not, then you just
killed someone real. A real
You see what can happen. It's
important for me that you see
(standing over her)
It wasn't an accident that you
and I ended up on the run
Not an accident?
Pikul hefts the submachine gun in his hands.
That's why you never had a
bioport. You were one of them.
I still am one of them.
But you have a bioport now.
I thought that was forbidden to
I made the bioport sacrifice to
get close to you, to make love to
Why would you do that?
To understand what I have to
Then. understand this.
Geller produces a tiny electronic remote controller from the
pocket of her shirt.
Understand that I suspected who
you were from the moment you made
that fake phone call to yourself
in the limo. Understand that I
knew you were my real assassin
when you pointed the gun at me in
the Chinese restaurant.
She flicks up a safety cover on the remote's tip, revealing
a toggle switch. Pikul's hands tense around the submachine
And understand that you're dead.
Geller flips the toggle switch. The base of Pikul's spine
blows out, his shirt billowing with blood as his bioport
A delighted Geller dances to her feet as Pikul staggers
Death to the demon Ted Pikul!
His eyes frozen in a death stare, Pikul falls, rolls down
the hill into the underbrush. Smoke creeping up from the
fires below curls over him like a blanket.
Arms raised in the air, Geller dances around on the top of
the hill, looking down on the flames and the chaos.
Have I won the game? Have I won?
Have I won?
The hill, the trees, the flames melt down around her.
INT. COUNTRY CHURCH - NIGHT
We melt back up into the church, which we last saw in the
first scene. But there are many differences between then and
Geller is sitting in her chair on the dais as before, her
eyes just beginning to flutter open. But Pikul is sitting
next to her, also playing the game. And next to him is
Nourish, whom we are even more surprised to see in this
Aad in fact, the players who are sitting in the circle of
chairs on the dais are all characters who have been in the
movie up to this point: Nader, the cashier, Dichter, Gas,
Vinkokur, even Frances, the limo driver.
The players are all emerging from a game that has just ended
- the movie we have been watching - and they begin to stir
in their game gear, which is nothing like the organic pod-
technology we have just seen.
On the contrary, the garners are wearing head-gear with
electrodes, more like normal clunky Virtual-Reality
equipment, and are linked by mundane wires. In their laps
they hold, not game-pods, but sleek plastic game modules,
each about the size of a walkman, with holes into Which
I their left thumbs are inserted - a simpler and cruder
version of the bioports we have become used to.
Watching the proceedings from down on the church floor are
two security guards, neither of whom is Pikul, of course. On
a leash, one of the security guards holds the dog that, in
the game, picked up the gristle gun in the Chinese
Also monitoring the action are a woman, Merle, who is the
game's actual project manager - the real-life version of the
game-character Levi - and her two assistants.
There is a collective sigh as the game finally releases the
players, and now they are free to remove their thumbs from
the game modules and slide their head-gear off.
The two assistants - the real-life ones are both matronly
women - begin to help everyone unplug, neatly gathering up
the equipment in padded bags as they go.
A broadly smiling Merle mounts the dais and stands in the
centre of the ring of players.
Are you all back?
The man whom we knew in the game as Yevgeny Nourish
immediately stands and takes charge. But it is a different
Nourish, exuberant, sensitive and artistic.
We're back, Merle. Although I
have a feeling some of our crew
might not realize it yet.
Shaky laughter from some of the players.
Throughout the following round of comments from the garners,
whom we now realize have been, up to now, playing characters
in a game, we hear nothing from Pikul and Geller. These two,
who sit next to each other and are now holding hands, remain
Wow. Anybody here want a bowl of
hot and sour soup?
I will, if you make sure there
are some insect boards in the
How long were we gone?
About twenty minutes.
It seemed like days. That's
Yeah. If you stayed in the
gameworld for most of your life,
you could live to be five hundred
The twists and turns at the end
made my head spin. Maybe there
were too many, to fast to absorb.
(to Pikul and Geller)
Hey, but you two were fantastic.
You guys are game divas! I think
you both deserved to win.
There is general agreement amongst the garners about this
compliment to Pikul and Geller. The pair just smile sweetly
and bob their heads modestly at the smattering of applause.
(a little jealous)
Well me, I was really bummed out
at first. I got knocked out of
the game so soon. It was fun to
watch the rest, though. I liked
that part where the ones who got
knocked out of the game early got
to be spooky customers in the
But you were so wonderfully bad.
So scary and crazy. I had a lot
to do in that first scene in the
church but I thought my character
was kind of boring.
Well, you know, I'm a gas-jockey
in real life, so I was kind of
disappointed that I was basically
the same thing in the game. A
little more fantasy, there,
Interesting. Interesting. Hold
that thought for the focus group.
(indicating game module)
Can I keep this? I've never felt
anything like it! And I love this
little thumb-hole. It's
(appreciative laughs and
Nice try, but you're going to
have to turn them in because
they're beta versions, pre-
production hand-made specials,
and we need to study them after
use for wear and tear and other
things. But you'll get a
certificate for helping us out
here - I'm right about that,
aren't I, Merle?
And that will entitle you to
reserve one of the first batch of
the TranscendenZ by PilgrImage
game modules to hit the market,
and at a seriously discounted
price. You're gonna love it.
Amidst applause and general excitement, Merle turns to the
tripod-mounted chalkboard standing, as in the first scene,
at the back of the dais. There we see the words that she has
already written: TranscendenZ by PilgrImage.
Remember - it's written like
this. Capital T, capital Z.
TranscendenZ. It's new, it's from
Pilgrimage - capital P. capital
I, and it's coming soon.
Allegra Geller now stands up, walks over to Nourish and
gently takes his hand. He turns to see who's got him, then
I'd just like to say thank you to
Mr. Nourish for giving me the
chance to play the role of a star
designer. I guess the game picked
up on my ambitions to be like
well, let me first say that I'm
kinda glad I lost this game. I
don't usually play such nasty
And, Allegra, you were so good in
that role that I suspect it won't
be long before PilgrImage is
after you to sign a designing
(applause and laughter)
And maybe you should take your
friend Ted, here, Mr. Pikul, with
you. He's obviously good in a
crisis, and when you design
games, there are plenty of them.
Amid the renewed good-natured laughter, Geller blushes. She
reaches out for Pikul's hand.
I guess you all could tell that
Ted and I had a relationship
prior to our coming here. We
really do like to play together.
(shy but determined)
We do, but I'd like to assure
everybody here that Allegra
wouldn't really jump into bed
with a security guard unless he
(laughs from the security
Merle holds out her hand in a gesture of appreciation
Well, what do we say to our
brilliant, award-winning game
designer, Yevgeny Nourish? Does
he have another winner on his
hands or not?
Wild applause from all garners, including Geller and Pikul.
All right, now, I have to ask you
some questions, before the game
half-life wears off. First, let
me thank you for taking part in
this test seminar. PilgrImage
wants to deliver nothing but the
finest to the game enthusiast,
and you have all been a proud
part of that process tonight.
When we've collected all the
head-sets and game modules, we'll
be handing out a questionnaire to
each of you, and I'd like your
answers to the questions to be as
honest, as brutal, as clear as
you can make them. Don't hold
back. After that, we're going to
form a focus group where we'll
discuss details of each of your
experiences playing TranscendenZ.
You've all had different but
interlocking lives in the game,
and I think you'll be amazed when
you hear each other's stories.
INT. COUNTRY CHURCH. MOMENTS LATER - NIGHT
While the questionnaires are being handed out by the
assistants, Nourish confers with Merle in a corner.
Merle, I was very disturbed by
the game we just played.
What do you mean?
It had a very strong, very real
anti-game theme. I mean, it began
with the assassination of a game
or Really? But that's very creative.
But on second thought, I see what
you mean. It makes me nervous.
You think it must have come from
one of our game players?
It sure didn't come from me. The
tone of it in the game was very,
very passionate, fanatical. And
the atmosphere of paranoia and
betrayal was overwhelming. The
whole thing felt unstable,
dangerous, volatile. But worse
than that, there was a kind of
industrial espionage subplot.
Stealing game-systems, jumping
ship from one game company to
another. That kind of thing.
They both reflexively begin to scan the gaming group, who
are all innocently dealing with their question cards.
So which one of them did these
elements come from?
Let's probe it when we do the
focus group. I think we might
have been infiltrated here, and
if we have, we've got a big
Pikul and'Geller, questionnaires in hand, wander over to the
wary Nourish and Merle. Pikul is now leading the dog that
the security guard was holding for him earlier on, the model
for the game dog in the Chinese restaurant.
Hi. We were just wondering if we
could ask Mr. Nourish a question,
away from all the others.
Long as you don't ask me to fill
in your questionnaire.
We've played your game now, and
so we can finally agree with the
others that you are the world's
greatest game artist.
We weren't sure before.
Well, thank you so much.
Yevgeny, don't you think you
should suffer for all the harm
you've done, and intend to do, to
the human race?
Yes. Don't you think the world's
greatest game artist ought to be
punished for the most effective
deforming of reality?
I don't think this is very...
(looks towards security
Boys? Could you come over here -
But it's too late. Geller reaches down and pulls a flap of
false fur and skin away from the dog to reveal two semi-
automatic pistols strapped to the dog's flank. Pikul and
Geller grab the guns, pull back the slides, and cooly
execute Merle and Nourish, who bump grotesquely together as
they slump to the ground.
In the stunned silence that follows, only the clatter of the
last few shells bouncing around on the hardwood floor can be
heard. Pikul and Geller glance at each other,. pumped, then
fill the silence.
Death to the demon Yevgeny
Death to PilgrImage! Death to
Now a hesitant shuffling of feet causes Pikul and Geller to
whirl and catch the security guards coming at them with
their pathetic scanning wands. The guards stop in their
tracks, raise their hands, and start to back away as the
place suddenly explodes in screams and pandemonium.
As Pikul and Geller in their turn back towards the front
exit, they glide past the young Chinese man who was the
waiter in the game. The waiter stands flattened out in fear
against a pillar with his questionnaire and his pencil in
They ignore the waiter, but stop to wait for Pikul's dog to
trot calmly past them, heading for the door.
Now Pikul and Geller are just about to turn and follow the
dog when the waiter unfreezes and takes a step away from the
pillar towards them. They immediately swing their pistols
over towards him. The waiter stops and raises his hands.
No, wait, you don't have to shoot
me. I just wanted to ask you a
Hey, tell me the truth. Are we
still in the game?
Pikul and Geller look at each other, then into the camera.
The church melts down around them into blackness.