The perspective pulls back from an overhead shot of the Earth to reveal a map that dominates one wall of a dark paneled and low lit conference room. A man enters the room carrying a case. Ill-at-ease and somewhat rumpled, he rummages through his case to find a tape that’s missing! The airman guarding the door calmly informs him it has already been cued in the machine. The man gets some water and drinks nervously as several other people file into the room.
The Chairman, Mr. Thornhill, has a salt and pepper beard and a distinguished mien but makes it clear early on that he will brook no foolishness; the hour is late and the committee has many matters to occupy its attention. At his right hand is a small brown globe that he uses as an impromptu gavel from time to time.
The presenter, Mr. Strong, starts by thanking the committee for seeing him and assuring them of the utmost importance of the material he has to present. Mr. Thornhill advises him to sit down and he does. Then Thornhill comments about Strong’s military service in Vietnam from 1971 to 19764. He suggests Strong should understand that the military does not take kindly when civilians demand to be heard. Strong replies that he’d hoped to get the ear of the President but Thornhill tells him the committee is as close as he’s ever going to get. Whatever he has to say, he must say to them. They will then decide if the President hears it.
Strong nervously pours himself some more water and then launches his presentation. Over the past several years, he says, he has performed a great deal of research that has led him to one inescapable conclusion – that the United States and maybe the world are being overrun by aliens. These extraterrestrials may be the greatest threat the world has ever faced, and Strong believes the country must act, and act now. He admits he is frightened – scared to death – of what might happen if the country does not act.
Keeping one for himself, Strong hands a stack of folders to the airman who distributes them to the members of the committee. Thornhill tells Strong that if he’s aware of the committee, he must be aware of its purpose, and Strong replies that he is aware of that purpose. The committee investigates unforeseen threats to the United States. Thornhill then advises Strong that the committee has studied some of the same facts Strong has to present but has not reached the same conclusions. Strong replies that it will be his job to convince the committee to act.
Waters, the newest and youngest member of the committee, starts the interrogation by suggesting that he sees nothing resembling a serious threat in the material. Strong draws the committee’s attention to the M7 biotics – microscopic eggs found on Mars. Thornhill counters that all of the M7 material was destroyed but Strong produces video evidence that Simon Kress took samples home and raised them. Kress recorded hours and hours of video from which Strong has culled the most telling portions. Among the revelations on this tape: the sandkings could have left Kress’ enclosure but chose not to. Other bits show how they learned to build from reading the label of a can and how they injected their own cells into Kress. Sandkings, Strong finishes, are poisonous and can eat three to four times their own weight per hour. Evidence of sandking activity has been detected as far away as nine hundred miles from Kress’ home. Intervening land includes two mountain ranges whose cold and dry higher altitudes nearly duplicate conditions in which the sandking eggs thrived for years before their discovery and return to earth. He further suggests the Army Corps of Engineers never gave the sandkings the respect they deserved and failed to consider the possibility that they were smart enough not to be found. Strong finishes by saying he’s convinced the sandkings will remain in obscurity until they are ready to attack.
Thornhill remains skeptical and even suggests that the moon is full tonight and that people say and do strange things on nights like that. He suggests that he has given Strong the benefit of the doubt but the hour is late and the committee is tired.
Strong says more serious threats exist and Thornhill invites him to submit what he has through proper channels, but Waters wants to hear more. Thornhill makes a pointed comment about the man’s inexperience on the committee but relents, leaving to call his wife and tell her that he will be very late.
Strong directs the committee to page three of his report and his allegations that the tragic destruction of the returning Mars probe was no accident. He concludes that the ship was destroyed by one of the astronauts aboard her. Earlier Thornhill told Strong he must have friends in the building to get an appointment before the committee and Strong now confirms this is so. Some of those friends retrieved and painstakingly reconstructed audio material from the destroyed spacecraft’s flight recorder. The excerpt reveals that Ed Barkley murdered Alan Wells after learning Wells had been replaced by an alien, and destroyed the spacecraft to prevent Pete Claridge had also been replaced. Strong speculates about the progression if Barkley had not stopped the alien: a single creature producing ten, and those each producing ten, and so forth. In a short time there could be thousands, and then millions, of these monsters. Thornhill counters saying that this didn’t happen and likens Strong’s speculation to paranoid “What If?” musings. Then he reiterates that the committee is only interested in facts. Strong asks him, with all due respect, to look again.
Thornhill then tells Strong that he okayed Strong’s appearance before the committee because he respects the chain of command, whereas Strong goes outside of the chain of command, using friends to bypass it. Strong admits he has used up his favors and Thornhill then advises him he’s not the only one with markers to call in. Thornhill used one of his to get Strong’s military jacket. From it he learned Strong was discharged before his tour was complete, suffering from a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder. Strong elaborates: his helicopter crashed returning from a spy mission, leaving Strong alone and surrounded by enemies. It took him a month to get out and for a time afterwards Strong suffered from a delusion that the enemy was always all around him.
Strong replies that those events took place a long time ago. And while he still suffers, the experience does not cloud his judgment. Thornhill seems convinced that Strong is paranoid and sees delusions. Strong angrily replies with a story from the time he spent surrounded by the enemy. He recalls villagers looking up as bombs came hurtling down from planes so far away they couldn’t be seen. Those villagers knew they couldn’t strike back. General Callahan comments that those villagers eventually won that war, and Strong agrees: that’s his point – humans can win the war against alien invaders, but only if they act quickly!
Thornhill grudgingly grants Strong permission to continue. Ms. Fisk, silent before this, states that she considers Strong’s scenarios farfetched. Strong extracts from his case physical evidence: a strange bullet burned by reentry forces. Thornhill gently mocks him, asking if this is a tiny alien spaceship. Strong explains that it housed a parasite that takes control over a host and searches for energy. Pressed for details he states that it searche for sexual energy, and cites examples from the past where bullets like this fell, and later women changed their behavior patterns and men disappeared. Eventually the problem stops when the creature achieves sufficient energy to metamorphose and leaves.
One committee member suggests a similarity to a house in Michigan, and Strong pulls out material from that case. In Michigan an ordinary house was somehow transformed into not terrestrial material. Another committee member, Ms. Perry, proposed this as a Class One threat but was overruled 4-1.
Mr. Thornhill remains skeptical, suggesting Mr. Strong cannot blame aliens for everything he doesn’t understand. Then he takes a five minute break to use his eye drops, punctuating it with the planet model gavel.
Mr. Strong’s glass as gone dry and as Ms. Perry kindly fills it he asks if she thinks he’s tilting at windmills and wasting his and the committee’s time.
Mr. Thornhill returns and suggests it’s time to wrap this meeting up. He tells Strong the committee simply interprets events differently. As an example, he asks whether Mr. Strong would regard a man with gills, eyes in the back of his head, and skin covered with stinging nettles as an alien. Strong says that he might, and Thornhill explains that this was merely a case where a scientific experiment went horribly wrong.
Mr. Thornhill asks for some case files but these have gone missing. The aide notes that he and Thornhill at the only once with access and Thornhill rather sharply tells him they’ll discuss the matter in the morning. Then he somewhat apologetically tells Strong he intended to share information the committee had gathered but that the bureaucracy has failed them. He goes on to say that the committee has done the lion’s share of the work investigating these claims, and that most of them have turned out to be hoaxes. Strong counters that the presence of lies doesn’t mean there are no real threats, and then asks a strange question: does Thornhill believe in God? Thornhill allows that he does and Strong recounts the tale of aliens who attempted to suborn Father Jenescu, granting him miraculous (and documented) abilities to heal
Thornhill scoffs, asking what kind of plan these aliens had, and why they selected a priest instead of someone in power. Strong pounces on that, suggesting that what Thornhill says makes the most sense and then adding that such an alien infiltrator would not have to seek the White House at all. Perhaps a young senator on the way up would do - a man like Senator Adams, who clearly wasn’t human. Thornhill tells Strong that was never proven and Strong pulls out the MRI from Adams’ car accident and other material proving that aliens control the Sendrax Corporation. He’s even got a bag of the methane based supplement they must inject to survive our atmosphere and information on how they mimic our appearance!
Chairman Thornhill understands Strong’s concerns and reassures him the government is aware of terrorist activities even if it does not agree on who is responsible. That is all Strong has, so the committee asks him to leave the room while it conducts a vote. The airman escorts Strong out.
Strong returns after the vote and Chairman Thornhill again invites him to be seated, but he prefers to stand. Thornhill tells him he made an impression and he replies that he regards this as time well spent. Thornhill continues by admiring Strong’s service record and his dedication to this cause... Strong interrupts, having concluding the committee intends no action. Thornhill asks permission to finish and confirms that a vote was taken regarding whether to propose what Strong has outlined to the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The vote was very close and those who voted “no” simply weren’t convinced of the threats outlined. Upset, Strong tells Thornhill the truth is staring him right in the face and he’s shutting his eyes to it. Infiltration is happening right now and... Thornhill gently interrupts, saying the committee appreciates the hard work but that the hearing is over.
The airman escorts Strong out and that’s when Strong makes a connection! The chairman left to put in eye drops – just like the aliens from Sendrax! Strong grabs the airman’s gun and shoots Thornhill. Thornhill lurches against the wall, pulling the bullet from it as he collapses, a large and very red bloodstain spreading across his shirt. Ms. Perry rushes to him, and tell Strong he had convinced Thornhill – the two of them voted yes! She leaves to summon help and General Callahan goes with her, leaving only Mr. Waters and Ms. Fisk. The airman wrestles Strong under control and out of the room, and when he does Waters and Fisk converse about the implications. Waters suggests Strong was right about the sandkings, and that they might be a problem in twenty or thirty years. As Waters removes as small knife from his belt Fisk asks if the sandkings can survive a methane atmosphere. Waters draws the bag of methane supplement close and gently opens it with the knife, then dips his finger in and tastes the poisonous extract appreciatively before telling Fisk he’s not sure about the sandkings, but supposes anything is possible... Share this article with your friends