Senator Richard Adams wraps up a short press conference extolling the virtues of Sendrax Corporation’s new fuel additive BE85. Despite oil lobby opposition the Senator supports the new additive and the cleaner air it will foster. He leaves Sendrax’ Dave Pettigrew to answer questions. On his way to the car reporter Kyle Haller tosses a final question: isn’t Sendrax as special interest group, too? Didn’t they contribute heavily to his campaign? Adams points out that dozens of environmental groups also contributed to his campaign before walking away. En route to the car Adams’ aide Evan Branch reads him a complex schedule of personal appearances before they drive off.
In the car Adams digs a bottle of eye drops from his suit and drips a few in. His aide asks if he can share them and Adams passes the bottle over. They discuss reporter Kyle Haller, whom the aide calls a pain in the ass. Adams replies that a reporter’s job is to be a pain in the ass. The car veers out of the proper lane as the aide ministers to his eye, drawing a rebuke from Adams. The aide adds drops to the other eye and again loses control of the car. This time when he opens his eyes a large truck bears down on them. Too late, he struggles to swerve...
Adams wakes up in the hospital. Doctors there tell him that he avoided serious injury, escaping the wreck with only a mild concussion. Neurologist Dr. Leslie McKenna then examines the MRI results and declares them useless. They show extra brain lobes and internal organs of unusual configuration. Dr. McKenna is convinces a mistake has occurred and leaves to order new films when a security detail bursts in. Security chief Peter Tennyson hustles Adams into his clothes and warns him that he should have arranged medical attention through them. His men seize the films and other test records over Dr. McKenna’s stammered objections. When Adams asks about these the agent makes a peculiar remark: he says they have a “syndrome case.” The men tell Dr. McKenna they’re taking the senator for security purposes. Tennyson leaves a man behind to debrief McKenna.
In a dark room men remove a blindfold from Adams’ eyes. He asks what they want and they ask him to recount his mission. Adams’ is confused. The men seize his arm and inject a straw colored fluid, then ask him again if he remembers. He does not, and the chief interrogator declares it a case of “Kasaric Syndrome” and says that Adams’ is a security risk. Then he orders his associates to terminate the senator, finishing with an almost apologetic goodbye. Men seize Adams and hold a rag over his mouth. Before he passes out he sees that one of the men has strangely prominent veins on his arms.
Adams wakes up shortly on the floor of a van. The driver and a passenger discuss locations. When it turns a corner he manages to open the back door and roll out! The van reverses in an attempt to find Adams, who darts down an alley and into a caged loading dock, there to hide among cartons. Agents search briefly but then race off. He runs off...
Sometime later Adams walks down a suburban street toward his apartment. Before he reaches it he sees security men all around it and changes his mind. He heads for the only other possible safe haven, his mother’s house. She takes him in and agrees to hide him. He tells her he’s part of a long nightmare that won’t seem to end. She tells him that he may stay with her as long as he wants. Then she leaves to prepare him some food and sends him upstairs to wash. No sooner does he climb the stairs than she makes a call and tells the party on the other end that Adams is there. Adams returns to the living room and sees a strange looking piece of art – a globe in brown and grey. It seems to strike a chord in him. Then he notices the same veins on his mother’s arm. She tells him she has recently been diagnosed with diabetes but cannot produce insulin when he demands to see it. The sharp chirp of a tire cuts the conversation short. Adams sees agents converging through the front window and hastily departs through the back, betrayed by his own mother. She calls after him that there is still time, that they can talk to the men. He ignores her.
Later Adams finds himself wandering the streets. A homeless man accosts him and, distraught, he nearly hits the man. Adams searches his own coat and realizes he has nothing.
Elsewhere men talk in a shadowed room. One says “he should be dead by now” and another assures the first speaker that “they’ll get him.” The first voice suggests they’ve “practically forced him to the other side” and the second answers that “he won’t remember who he is or what he’s here for.” On the table is the same muddy brown globe.
Richard pulls a piece of cardboard over himself and goes to sleep on the street. The next morning he awakens to headlines proclaiming that he is missing and sought by police. The news vendor recognizes him but he staggers away before the man can summon police. Then he notices something else: his hair is coming out in clumps!
With nowhere to turn, Adams finds Dr. McKenna. She tells him men are looking everywhere for him. The veins on his inner arms are more prominent now, and look just like those of the men who briefly held him captive. She tells him the security men told her she didn’t see anything. He tells her he sought her out because her confusion suggested she wasn’t one of the people he is clearly involved with. He tells her that he can’t trust anybody and that he was involved with something but cannot remember what. Finally, he asks her to help him. Afraid to go to a hospital he asks her to take him to her office. She reluctantly agrees to this.
New scans reveal the same thing: a four lobed brain and internal organs of unusual configuration. And the front pair of lobes don’t look quite human. She tells him there is damage to the skull over the left frontal lobe and this might account for the headaches and memory loss. He shares additional symptoms: trouble breathing and difficulty focusing his eyes. And he continues to lose hair by the fistful. McKenna draws some blood for tests and discovers his blood is pale yellow! He asks what’s wrong with him but she does not know.
Kyle Haller’s Eye on Washington comes on the radio. Haller comments about the disappearance of the Idaho senator Richard Adams and opines that without his support his controversial energy bill mandating the use of BE85 will likely die in committee. Listening, Adams is horrified to notice that his fingernails are peeling off! Dr. McKenna asks if he volunteered for experiments involving drugs or radiation. He says no, he’s no guinea pig. He also discounts the possibility of genetic abnormality in his family. McKenna has discovered that his urine is highly acidic, much more so than normal, and that his organs have been reshaped. He claims that before the accident he was normal and she tells him the accident did not cause these changes. She also tells him his blood was mostly methane. Thinking back, he recalls the “supplement” injected into him in the dark room and that it made him feel better. And he remembers comments suggesting he took it all the time, concluding that he must have a supply somewhere, probably in his apartment. He doesn’t know how to get in there with men guarding it. McKenna tells him she can get in there because the men won’t be looking for her.
They pull up and Adams shows her his apartment and gives her the keys, suggesting she check the bathroom. He asks why she’s helping him and at first she doesn’t know. But then she tells him her father was a general and raised her to be proud of her country. She thinks her father would turn over in his grave if she didn’t help a United States Senator.
McKenna scurries into the building past the bored security men who notice but do not recognize her. She searches Adams’ bathroom and finds that the medicine cabinet insert pulls out. Behind it are plastic bags of yellow fluid, small bottles of eye drops and a revolver. She takes it all.
Back in her apartment she half drags and half carries the semi-conscious Adams inside. She wants to test the solution but he orders her to give him the shot. He’s unsure of the dosage so she finally selects a dosage of five cubic centimeters and injects him, telling him if that works she’ll give him more.
The next morning Adams is remarkably better. She tells him she checked his vital signs and noted that they improved throughout the night. He asks where the gun came from and professes ignorance when she tells him it came from his apartment. Clearly, the chemical saved his life, and yet, he has no idea what it is. She tells him the substance is a methane based polymer with traces of ammonia and chlorine and a substance she cannot identify. Apparently, his system needs methane; the eye drop bottles contained a similar formula. She tells him that even as small quantity of the chemical would kill most people and asks him if his mother offered any clue about the drug. He tells her she didn’t.
He returns to the men asking him about his mission. As far as he can remember he grew up in Idaho and is an expert in environmental matters. That’s how he became involved with Sendrax and Dave Pettigrew, through their additive program to improve the environment with BE85. Now he’s not sure who he can trust. He thanks McKenna for her help but tells her he must do the next things alone. She refuses to leave him, pointing out that if he has a relapse he will need treatment and she can provide it.
It being Sunday, they decide to visit Sendrax in the hope the few or no employees will be there and they might learn some answers. They enter through the front door and Adams guides them towards Pettigrew’s office in the security wing. His handprint still accesses the door and they enter the office to pull the files on the additive. On the table is a globe like the one his mother had – a dirty brown sphere. Adams knows there’s more to it than simple modern art but realizes this is the room where men interrogated him earlier. Dismissing it, he sends McKenna after the files while he checks the computer. In the files he discovers clippings containing endorsements from prominent people throughout Washington. She discovers an environmental impact projection on the computer that says BE85 is based on the same compound as Adams’ supplement. As she advances the timeline, evil brown clouds spread from North America, Europe, and Japan to cover the planet. The study shows that it takes time for the emissions to catalyze but when they do they will turn the air poisonous and make methane the dominant component. In thirty years it will be unbreathable and in sixty all live on Earth will be dead.
They hear a power surge and move farther in. Another security handprint pad opens a door to a room containing a strange fluid-filled tank in which floats a think half monster and half human. A silhouette appears in the door and a voice calls out, asking who’s in the room. The man enters and recognizes Adams. He’s grateful the Senator is alive! The man is Dave Pettigrew. Adams asks him what the mission is, and speculates that it is to destroy the atmosphere with BE85. Then he asks what’s in the tank and Pettigrew slyly asks if he recognizes the figure. As they round the tank they see the face is that of Adams! The figure inside the tank is his replacement. Pettigrew goes on to tell Adams he was transformed in exactly such a tank, as was everyone who came here to resettle. Adams curtly says there will be one less and pulls the connectors from the tank. The creature inside thrashs and vomits a cloud of brownish fluid before becoming very still. Pettigrew is upset and tells Adams his “entire race” counts on him. Adams staggers out. He realizes that the globe models his own homeworld of Torsha and that he is as alien as the rest of them. Pettigrew confirms that the aliens are “terraforming” the planet to make it like their own home and to make the air breathable without the supplement. Adams no longer considers himself one of them, but Pettigrew pleads with him, telling him the syndrome that afflicts his memory can be repaired. When human brain lobes were added to his skull his own brain lobes were pushed forward and became vulnerable to blunt force trauma. That is why his memory has gone, but they can take him home and correct the problem. Adams asks about Leslie McKenna and Pettigrew tells him that she knows too much and must die. Adams gives Leslie the gun and tells her to cover Pettigrew while he calls the one reporter he can trust – pain in the ass Kyle Haller, who never cut BE85 any slack and cannot be one of them. He tells Haller he has a BE85 story Haller will want to hear but advises him not to bring the news crew. Pettigrew goes for a hidden button and McKenna shoots him, but not before he can press it. An alarm sounds as Pettigrew collapses, two large yellow splotches marking the wounds.
Adams and McKenna manage to elude the security people and escape the building. Men follow and shoot at their car but miss. Later, Adams meets with Kyle Haller and hands him a thick file containing the truth about BE85. He tells Haller the authorities need to round up the rest of his kind. Then he rejoins McKenna and tells her they have to split up, and perhaps its best if she not know where he is. She walks away and he flags down a cab to the airport. The cabbie obligingly turns on the radio and to his horror he hears about the tragic murder of newsman Kyle Haller, and the authorities’ principal suspect, Dr. Susan McKenna! He orders the cabbie to turn around but instead the man locks all the doors. As the cabbie turns the wheel, Adams cannot help but note the pattern of veins on his arm... Share this article with your friends