TELEMETRY

 

A script by Anna Tchernakova

Fifth Draft November 2005

 

This work has been registered with:

Writers Guild of Canada Registration # S05-00340

Writers' Copyright Association of UK

Registration # C100744

INT. SPECIAL EFFECTS - MACROPHOTOGRAPHY

Pictures of snowflakes, one after another, are photographed suspended in a bright blue space.

Each snowflake is different.

Each is beautiful, perfect - well, almost perfect, because when we look closer, each has a slight asymmetry, slight defect - a tiny melted corner, a twist, a spare side branch...

TERESA (O.S.)

(with a German accent)

The growth of a snowflake begins with a minute dust particle on which water molecules start condensing... When the crystal is still small, faceting dominates the growth, and the crystal looks like a hexagonal prism... As the crystal grows larger, the corners of the prism stick out a bit further into the saturated air and thus grow faster. It causes the hexagon to sprout arms or 'branch'. The growth rates reflect the ever-changing conditions in the crystal's environment... And its final shape becomes the visual representation of its life story, or, if you want, its memory...

The next snowflake suddenly moves, as if lifted by a gentle breeze.

A fast zoom-out reveals an endless space filled with snowflakes carried by a gust of wind.

Surrounded by other snowflakes, 'ours' is flying towards us, passed us, and falls on the city seen far down bellow, descending on the approaching roofs until...

EXT. A TOWN IN QUEBEC (RIMOUSKI) STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE/ ROOF - DAY

... the snowflake rests inside a satellite dish.

The hands of GASTON turn the dish around, checking the reception on a small portable battery-run television plugged into the dish.

The television shows A NEWS ITEM BY RADIO-CANADA ABOUT THE DEATH OF A RUSSIAN COSMONAUT.

The screen shows an interview with the COSMONAUT (IVAN) and his TWO COLLEAGUES in the Star City.

The three cosmonauts are standing outside in front of a grey stature of Yuri Gagarin slightly powdered with snow. The interview is subtitled in French.

IVAN

(in Russian)

... and we promised to take this drawing with us, so that when we return, the little rabbit will tell the boy what he's seen from the space... and perhaps will give him some strength to endure the illness...

The image from the Star City disappears. The news ANNOUNCER appears on the screen.

ANNOUNCER

This was an extract from the last pre-flight interview of the Russian cosmonaut Ivan Nekrassov, who died last night having suffered a heart attack during the landing...

The reception is now clear. GASTON, a big jolly middle-aged Native man in parka and snow-boots, satisfied, unplugs the television.

EXT. A TOWN IN QUEBEC (RIMOUSKI) STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE - DAY

A young woman in an unbuttoned European tweed coat - TERESA - is watching Gaston from the landing of an exterior staircase.

Gaston's blue van, with a couple of ladders stored on top of the roof and a cheerful picture of people watching television painted all over it, is parked by the house.

Another young woman (NICOLE) with a child (SAGA) appear at top of the street. Nicole pulls Saga along in a sledge, Saga holds grocery bags.

Nicole steps aside, gives Saga the cord and gently pushes the sledge down the hill. Saga laughs. Nicole runs alongside, trying to keep up with the speeding sledge.

Across the street a neighbour - a tall man dressed in a imitation- leather jacket (GILLES) - loads travel bags into an older 'Volvo'.

His WIFE locks the front door. She notices a full black garbage bag sitting on the landing, covered with fresh snow. She picks it up and drags down. Gilles hurries up to help her.

WIFE

You said you'd put it out last night!

GILLES

(wearily)

I am sorry.

The wife rejects his help and slams the bag on the side of the road in a rather pointed manner...

...just as THE GARBAGE COLLECTION TRUCK turns the corner at the end of the street and disappears.

WIFE

Of course. Now it'll sit here till next week.

GILLES

For God sake, darling! I went to get the purse! I don't want to have to come back because...

The sledge with laughing Saga and Nicole whiz along the pavement, and Gilles has to step aside to let them pass between him and his wife.

This passage stops the argument. Gilles angrily swings open the car door. Silently Gilles and his wife get in the car and drive away.

Nicole catches up with the sledge and slows it down by the steps of the house right where Teresa is standing.

EXT. A TOWN IN QUEBEC (RIMOUSKI) STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE/ ROOF - DAY

Gaston collects his instrument from the roof.

A big chunk of snow on the roof, disturbed by Gaston's movements, slides along and unexpectedly falls down on Teresa.

EXT. A TOWN IN QUEBEC (RIMOUSKI) STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE - DAY

Teresa is covered with snow from head to toes. She shakes it off her face but the snow has got behind her collar, inside the shirt, inside her shoes... She laughs.

Saga bursts out laughing.

Gaston jumps down and Nicole dashes up the steps.

GASTON

I am so sorry.

Gaston and Nicole start brushing the snow off Teresa.

NICOLE

You don't get a treatment like this in Germany, do you?

Saga is still laughing. Teresa suddenly turns around, pretending she wants to catch the girl. Saga runs down the stairs and throws herself in a pile of snow. Teresa follows her, falling heavily in the pile of snow near-by.

Nicole and Gaston look at each other and shake their heads.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, BATHROOM - DAY

Teresa's clothes, wet with melting snow, lie on the bathroom floor.

Shivering Teresa is wrapped in a towel. She holds her hands under the running hot water.

NICOLE (O.S.)

What should I bring you?

TERESA

Anything from the top of the bag.

Nicole knocks and half-opens the door. She is holding purple sports slacks and a tee-shirt.

NICOLE

Will this do?

TERESA

No, I'm sorry, it's for my yoga.

Nicole reappears with a silver dress.

NICOLE

(doubtfully)

What about this?

Teresa looks at the dress with a moment of hesitation.

TERESA

Sure, why not. It's my engagement dress.

(casually)

The groom was caught having an affair, but the dress is nice, isn't it?...

Nicole looks at her with concern.

TERESA (CONT'D)

(with a little laugh)

How was it...

(recites in English)

...A sturdy little donkey,

all dressed in sombre grey,

Once got it in his long-eared head

that he would run away.

So when a little open,

he saw the barnyard door,

He ran as if he never would

go back there any more...

(back in French)

right?

She takes the dress from Nicole.

TERESA (CONT'D)

I'll be a minute.

She closes the door.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR - DAY

Gaston, in his socks, is pulling cable into Teresa's room. Nicole is on the background unpacking groceries in the kitchen.

TERESA (O.S.)

Away that donkey galloped,

and ran and ran and ran,

And ran and ran and ran and ran and ran and ran and ran...

The bathroom door opens. Teresa comes out changed in her engagement dress.

NICOLE

It's beautiful, Teresa!

TERESA

It was supposed to be beautiful.

Gaston turns around silently admiring the dress.

Teresa, suddenly uneasy and realising she is wearing woollen socks which look very out of place with the dress, wraps herself in a chequered blanket which she pulls off the armchair.

NICOLE

I have a sales party tonight. I want you to come along. It's a lot of fun, and I've got some canapÈs and beer.

Gaston winks to Nicole.

GASTON

Can I come too?

NICOLE

(laughs)

I am afraid it's for women only.

TERESA

I have work to do for tomorrow, I'm not sure.

NICOLE

Oh we won't let you work anyway!

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - AFTERNOON

Teresa's room has one big window, a settee, a television, a desk and half-unpacked travel bags. There is also a small fridge in the corner. Gaston's toolbox is sitting on top of the fridge.

Gaston connects the decoder and turns the television on.

Teresa sits on her settee wrapped in the blanket, with books and notes in front of her, working while waiting for Gaston to finish.

Saga hangs on the threshold of the room, watching Gaston and Teresa.

GASTON

(talking to Saga as he tunes the television set)

So the signal goes to space, then comes back, gets into the big dish I put on the roof, runs along the cable like a little mouse...

Saga giggles.

GASTON (CONT.) (CONT'D)

...and comes here on screen so we'll be able to see anything we want!

SAGA

Even things we have never seen before?

GASTON

Yes.

SAGA

Can I then see my dad then?

GASTON

Well... You might have to wait for a bit. I've been looking for my dad since I was your age, and have not seen him yet!

SAGA

My dad is far away. He went to the Moon, you see.

Nicole stops briefly at the doorframe, shakes her head but doesn't say anything.

GASTON

You know what? My dad was a pilot and might have gone to the Moon, as well!

It is hard to say if Gaston is humouring Saga or whether he is serious.

Saga's attention is distracted by a pile of Teresa's books on the floor. The top book (entitled Branching and Chance: a theory of snow crystals growth) has a picture of a beautiful snowflake on the cover.

SAGA

(to Teresa)

Can I see it?

Teresa nods.

Saga crouches and carefully picks up the book. She opens it, leafs through and puts down, disappointed - instead of beautiful pictures there are only a boring text and tables inside!

She moves aside a couple of other books uncovering a transparent file serving as a bag for different size photographs.

Saga glances at Teresa, who seems to be absorbed in her reading, and carefully shakes photos on the floor. She picks up A PHOTO OF A GROUP OF YOUNG PIONEERS WITH LITTLE TERESA in the middle, looks at it and puts it aside. Next she picks up the top yellowish photograph picturing a very young couple - A SOLDER AND A WOMAN IN A PRETTY DRESS AND A HAT.

SAGA (CONT'D)

She is pretty!

Teresa takes her eyes off the book and glances at the picture.

TERESA

It's my grandparents.

SAGA

Did you grandpa go to war?

TERESA

He was sent to the war and died.

SAGA

Did your grandpa burn people in ovens?

Teresa, startled, looks at Saga.

TERESA

No he did not.

SAGA

Was he burned in the oven then?

Teresa puts aside the book, gets off the settee and scouts near Saga.

She gently takes the picture from Saga, brushes together other pictures and puts them in the file. Then she pulls out a pack of white-and-gold-and-pink wedding invitations.

TERESA

Look... Do you like it? Do you want to take one for your craft?

Saga takes one invitation out, admiring the card. She opens it and makes a face when she sees the writing in German.

SAGA

I really like the pink, it's pretty. What does it say?

TERESA

Nothing important.

Nicole, hearing the exchange through the half-open door, steps in.

NICOLE

(to Saga)

Saga, you are being a nonsense, aren't you? Come over here, it's your bath time anyway.

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, STREET - EVENING

The light outside has become blue, and many windows across the street are now illuminated, except for the windows of Gilles' house.

Every window spots a working television screen with silently moving images inside the room.

Gilles' car stops by his house. Gilles comes out, alone, locks the car. He checks the mailbox, glances at the garbage bag and slowly walks up the stairs.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR - EVENING

Gaston coils the spare cables and puts them by his boots on the corridor.

VOICES OF NICOLE AND SAGA come from behind the bathroom door, where Saga is having her bath.

SAGA (O.S.)

What kind of dog was she? A Dalmatian? Did she go to the Moon?

NICOLE (O.S.)

No she did not...

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - EVENING

Gaston moves the fridge back in the corner.

GASTON

It's not good to have your fridge where you sleep, you know?

TERESA

Why?

GASTON

Harmful emissions!... Want me to move it to the kitchen?

TERESA

No, thank you, I need it here. I use it when I work.

Gaston opens the fridge door and for a moment contemplates the inside. It's empty except for a small transparent cube on a lower shelf. He closes the door and hesitates for a moment, looking at Teresa.

GASTON

At St. Mary's church on Friday night, they give out food vouchers. Want me to pick up one for you? It's no bother...

TERESA

(puzzled)

No, thank you. Have you finished?

GASTON

Almost.

He flicks the knob passing ARAB NEWS CHANNEL... A CHINESE MUSIC CHANNEL... GERMAN SPORTS NEWS... RUSSIAN PUBLICITY...

GASTON (CONT'D)

Even the state television of Vladivostok... Do you speak Russian?

TERESA

It was compulsory when I was school, before the re-unification.

GASTON

Come closer, I'll show you how to tune it.

Teresa gets off the settee and approaches Gaston, stopping a good few feet away. He slowly turns the tuning knob, waiting for each image to fully appear before he moves to the next one.

GASTON (CONT'D)

Al Jazera news... FBI surveillance cameras... Ever tuned the radio? It's the same idea... Try it yourself.

He steps aside, letting her to the controls. Teresa turns the knob, Gaston watching from behind her shoulder.

GASTON (CONT'D)

That's right... Slowly... British Parliament... nearest supermarket CCTV... another Arab channel... You need to do it very gently...

Teresa turns around abruptly.

TERESA

Could you please move a bit further back?

GASTON

(baffled)

Is something wrong? Do I smell badly? I've had garlic rolls for lunch, that's true.

Teresa walks away from the television.

GASTON (CONT'D)

Then what is it? I have respect for you and myself.

Teresa shakes her head.

TERESA

I'm sorry. I don't like dormitories, I can't share rooms in hotels. I detest camping. I hate public transport in rush hour. I feel claustrophobic when people come too close. I need to breathe, I need a distance, I need my own private space.

Gaston looks at Teresa with attention and stretches his arm towards her.

GASTON

Come on. Touch me. Hit me. Slap me...

TERESA

Why?

GASTON

Physical contact it's a part of human nature. We all need it. To hug. To be hugged. To hit. To shake hands... In Quebec we kiss when we see each other.

TERESA

In Germany we don't.

GASTON

I see.

He collects his tools.

TERESA

How much do I need to pay?

Gaston reaches to his pocket, takes out a crumbled 'work order', reads it through, writes something on it, sighs and puts it back in the pocket.

GASTON

Nothing.

Teresa looks at him, perplexed.

TERESA

I was told it would cost forty dollars. Here it is.

Teresa hands out two banknotes. Gaston awkwardly shakes his head and looks away. Teresa puts the money on the fridge in front of Gaston.

TERESA (CONT'D)

Please, I don't understand. Could you please take it and go.

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, ENTRANCE - EVENING

Gaston slowly walks down the stairs, carrying his tools and still holding the banknotes. He shakes his head, angrily muttering something to himself.

A group of THREE GIGGLING YOUNG WOMEN (MELISSA, NATASHA and SEBASTIAN) goes up the stairs towards him. Gaston stops on the landing letting them to squeeze by.

MELISSA

Is the party already over?

GASTON

No, no men allowed.

MELISSA

Oh I am against discrimination! I am Melissa, and these two are...

Laughing, Melissa pushes the other two towards Gaston. A burst of giggles and screams follows.

MELISSA (CONT'D)

Sorry they are too shy...

Gaston smiles, shakes his head. He gently moves around the girls and walks down the stairs.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM

Teresa is working at the table, trying to ignore the VOICES of the women in the corridor.  A burst of LAUGHTER is heard from the living room. Teresa puts aside her notes, distracted.

She gets up and checks her dress in the reflection in the dark window.

Teresa's hands looking through things in her suitcase: she takes out a yoga mat and unrolls it to reveal a bottle of Rein's Riesling.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR - EVENING

There is a pile of coats and a pile of snowy boots by the door. The living room door is ajar.

Teresa knocks.

NICOLE (O.S.)

(from behind the door)

Come in!

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - EVENING

The living room lights are dimmed and covered with red and blue fabric. A 'disco-ball' light is turning, throwing a moving multi-coloured pattern of 'snow' on the wall. There is a big painted sign 'Awareness is about focusing our attention in the present moment.'

Natasha, Melissa and Sebastian are snacking on canapÈs. They look at Teresa with interest.

Nicole enters from the kitchen, wheeling behind a decorated table. She waves to Teresa with enthusiasm.

NICOLE

Please meet Teresa, my new lodger... Melissa, Natasha, Sebastian... Please have a quick bite, and take a sit, we are starting in a moment...

Teresa puts the bottle on the table with canapÈs, perches on the side of the armchair and picks up a small layered triangle. There are printed leaflets lying on the table near canapÈs. Teresa glances on them. The top says: 'The present moment is where life happens. Listen to your body. Awaken to your senses. Awaken to your life.'

MELISSA

Nicole told us you are from Germany... Do you like it here? It must be quite different, is it?

Teresa nods.

SEBASTSIAN

I've never been to Europe.

NATASHA

My boyfriend and I went to Spain last spring. Really enjoyed it, but cost us a fortune!

MELISSA

My aunt's husband is from Poland, but he moved here thirty years ago.

Teresa listens, polite.

Nicole turns the table around and wheels it into the middle of the room, under the dimmed light.

NICOLE

(making last adjustments to the display)

Everything is ready. Come closer, everyone...

The table reveals a display of brightly coloured vibrators, beads and other sex toys.

Teresa is lost for words, looking at the vibrators in profound shock.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

So, today we'll talk about how listening to our body offers us an opportunity to open to the present moment. We will explore the collection of...

TERESA

Excuse me.

She gets up from the chair and quickly walks to the door.

NICOLE

Teresa? Are you alright?

TERESA

I am not interested in this. I'm sorry if I've interrupted.

NICOLE

Wait...

MELISSA

Is it because of religion? My aunt's husband could never talk about sex...

TERESA

I simply have too much work to do. It was nice meeting you anyway.

She exist the room and closes the door behind.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Teresa notices that Saga's door is ajar. Saga is not asleep and is sitting silently in her bed, with a closed book on her knees. Teresa stops.

TERESA

You should be sleeping by now.

SAGA

I don't feel sleepy.

TERESA

Do you want me to read to you?

Saga shakes her head. She reaches and turns off the light.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa's dress is thrown on the back of the chair.

Teresa, now changed in tee-shirt and slacks, is standing in a headstand, silently crying (with her tears running the opposite way).

A BURST OF LAUGHTER from the living room makes her almost fall down.

As she stamps on the floor, the television screen lightens up and a crystal in the shape of a GIANT ASYMMETRICAL SNOWFLAKE appears on it. The crystal is slowly moving away from the camera.

INT. RUSSIAN SPACE STATION - DAY

It becomes clear that it's suspended in a transparent chamber held by a YOUNG MAN (IVAN) in a tee-shirt.

Looking straight at Teresa, the man reaches with another hand and picks up earphones suspended in the air in front of the camera.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa moves closer to the television, intrigued by the crystal. She searches for a piece of scrap paper and starts sketching.

IVAN

(in Russian)

You see there is a very interesting branching, completely unexpected, along axis Y... I'll leave it in the basic block, if you don't mind - it cheers me up.

Ivan lets the chamber with the crystal float away. Teresa's gaze follows it before returning to Ivan.

INT. RUSSIAN SPACE STATION - DAY

In the middle of the sentence Ivan starts slowly floating upwards, till he makes a fin-like movement with his arms letting the cube with the crystal gracefully float in the air.  Ivan floats back in the up-right position.

IVAN

Now, about repairs. I've sealed the leak in the TCS system, as we spoke yesterday. The temperature is getting back to normal, it's 28C in the base block. There are still problems with the atmospheric pressure. Sensor DSD went off. I've clocked a pressure loss, not a huge one, about 1ml a day. Can't find where it's coming from, but will keep looking. After the communication I will go check on the gyrodynes. Well, that's it for today's program... Do we have any news? When will the guests be coming over?

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

They are getting ready, but the date has not been set yet.

IVAN

What about our American friends? Don't they want to drop in for a cup of tea?... I am starting to feel a bit lonely here, guys. Last night had a strange dream - as if someone is walking inside the station and knocks on the walls as a switchman on the train wheels: touk-touk, touk-touk... I tell him please knock a bit lighter or you'll make a hole, but he doesn't listen to me, and continues - touk-touk, touk-touk...

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

You know Egor Titov asked to say hello to you.

Ivan's expression changes, he smiles.

IVAN

Ah... How are they?

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

Lost to Real Madrid three-nil.

IVAN

Bastards!..

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

He himself didn't play, he got a knee injury...

IVAN

He should take care of his knee pretty quickly then. Could you tell him, and Tikhonov too, if they lose one more game I'll never go to sauna with them again!... So I see now why I have such bizarre dreams!

Everyone laughs.

IVAN (CONT'D)

End of communication session. Thank you, guys....

He takes off the earphones and winks to the camera as he turns and floats away. The image disappears.

EXT. STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE - MORNING

Fresh snow has fallen on the stairs and the landing by Nicole's front door. Its surface is untouched except for traces of Nicole's and Saga's steps from the door down the stairs.

CU A local newspaper in sealed in plastic is thrown on the landing. It sinks in the snow.

CU A bunch of supermarket fliers follows the newspaper.

CU Someone's boots (GASTON'S) walk up the stairs, stop on the landing. A plastic bag with a rolled parka and a pair of winter boots is placed by the newspaper and the fliers. A note 'for Teresa' is put on top of the boots and parka.

EXT. DAYCARE PLAYGROUND - MORNING

SEVERAL SMALL CHILDREN are playing with the snow on a slide in a shape of a 'space rocket'. Nicole watches Saga joining the children.

Saga gets on the top of the slide, turns around and waves to Nicole. Nicole waves back.

EXT. COMMERCIAL STREET - MORNING

Nicole walks back home along a small commercial street.

She stops by a veggie shop with a street counter, picks up an orange, hesitating.

EXT. STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE - MORNING

A DELIVERY MAN, a young Sikh, is unloading boxes, putting them on the snow by the bottom of Nicole's stairs.

Nicole hurries up towards him.

NICOLE

Sorry I am a bit late.

She counts the boxes.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

There should be ten... Would you be so kind to help to get them up?

The delivery man gets out the last box and the order form.

Nicole signs.

DELIVERY MAN

Cheers.

He gets in the van and starts the engine.

Nicole shakes her head, picks up one of the boxes and the oranges and carries them up to the landing.

As the delivery van backs up and turns around, the very top box on the pile wobbles and falls on the ground spilling colourfully packed vibrators on the snow.

Nicole rushes down.

Across the street the neighbour, Gilles, unlocks his bike, an old black model with two wired square baskets at the rear. He sees the box fall down and crosses the street, wheeling his bike along.

GILLES

Would you like a hand?

Nicole looks up at him.

GILLES (CONT'D)

I'm your neighbour, from number 389.

NICOLE

I know.

Gilles leaves the bike against the stairs and crouches down besides Nicole. He picks up one vibrator and inspects it with a bemused expression.

GILLES

Hm... That's a bit unexpected...

He looks at Nicole.

NICOLE

I sell sex toys for women.

GILLES

Oh... Only for women? What discrimination!

Nicole checks him out.

NICOLE

Yes. It's the shop's philosophy. It's about a positive non-threatening space and well-being.

GILLES

Tell me how well-being can be thought of without men?

He picks up four boxes at once and runs with them up the stairs.

Nicole smiles and shakes her head.

Gilles places the boxes on the landing, turns around and runs back down.

NICOLE

What do you do?

GILLES

I'm a journalist... and I teach journalism at the university...

He picks up other four boxes.

NICOLE

Demonstration parties are on first Thursday of the month. Your wife is welcome if she'd like to come... I'll even give her a discount because of your kind help...

GILLES

(seriously)

She is away. Besides, I don't think she'd find it very... amusing.

They get the two last boxes up the steps in silence.

NICOLE

Thanks.

GILLES

Not at all. My name is Gilles, by the way.

Nicole picks up the newspaper and the fliers from the landing.

NICOLE

Is there something of yours in here?

GILLES

I'm the head of the program, so at the moment I have no time for myself.

He looks at her, thinking about something.

GILLES (CONT'D)

Didn't I see you at the university?

NICOLE

I'm in my last year in sociology.

Gilles jokingly shakes his head.

GILLES

What gross indecency! A student and a professor spend time over...

He points to the boxes. Nicole wants to say something but smiles instead.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - MORNING

The television screen is dark and covered with dust revealed by sunlight from the window.

The drawing of a dendrite crystal from the previous night is lying on the table. Teresa's hand takes the drawing.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR - MORNING

Teresa picks up her tweed coat and leans down to zip up her high-heeled shoes.

The front door opens.  Nicole secures it with a sleeper and drags in the first box.

NICOLE

You are leaving? It will be just a moment...

TERESA

Let me help you.

She starts decisively moving boxes inside the house, trying to ignore pictures on the packaging.

TERESA (CONT'D)

I'd put it all away somewhere before Saga comes back home.

NICOLE

I don't have sales parties too often, I mostly sell through Internet.

TERESA

It would have been nice to let me know that you run a sex shop before I rented the room.

Nicole stops and look at Teresa.

NICOLE

I didn't thing it was of any relevance. I am not sure you understand. I do workshops on sexual self-sufficiency...

TERESA

I understand, Nicole, I have to go, I'm late for work.

Nicole hands her the plastic bag with a note 'for Teresa'.

NICOLE

I think someone dropped something for you.

Puzzled, Teresa reaches inside and takes out a pair of bulky winter boots and a folded orange-and-blue parka.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

That's handy. Much better than what you have on. I think it's Gaston.

TERESA

I can't wear this.

She puts it back in the bag. Nicole is amused.

NICOLE

OK I'll put it in my closet for now.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB - DAY

The DRAWING OF THE SPACE SNOWFLAKE on Teresa's desk.

Teresa, dressed in a white lab gown, is setting up an experiment in a levitation chamber with an attached monitor by the side connected to the magnifying viewer.

A sun-tanned PROFESSOR RON (rolled-up sleeves and black jeans) is sitting on top of the table in the middle of the lab, chewing a healthy-looking sandwich.

Professor Ron's assistant JULIE, a plump young woman with short hair and ironical eyes, is typing something at her desk.

PROFESSOR HUGO, a middle-age man with an egg-shaped head and small glasses, switches on the second levitation chamber.

Behind the kitchen door a half-seen post-graduate researcher GUILLAUME is struggling with a coffee machine.

Teresa adjusts the position of a minute particle of dust suspended in the air, checking it on the monitor screen. Once done, she turns on the temperature control.

RON (O.S.)

(continuing the story)

... Petrovchik, always dressed in the same brown suit, white shirt and a black tie... Now, the first night of the conference, we all go out for dinner - Petrovchik doesn't go...

The image from a microscope viewfinder transferred onto computer screen shows a suspended dust particle. A gust of gas engulfs the particle.

RON (CONT. O.S.) (CONT'D)

...He sits in his room and nobody knows what he's doing there. Second night of the conference, we all go out for dinner to a very good Thai restaurant - Petrovchik sits in his room... Are you listening, Teresa?

Teresa looks up from the chamber.

TERESA

Yes.

RON (CONT.)

...Third night. A colleague from Ireland and I catch Petrovchik after the panel and force him to come with us. Petrovchik asks for a glass of water and eats the whole dish of free salted peanuts with it!

Distracted from the experiment, Teresa is listening with growing discontent.

JULIA (O.S.)

Guillaume, how's the coffee?

GUILLAUME (O.S.)

It's starting to work now... I think...

RON (CONT.)

... So, at the final reception I asked him what he ate all these days. 'Soup', he said. He brought a box of tinned soup, heat it with a portable water heater and ate!

TERESA

He probably didn't have any money.

RON

He had per diems, like all of us, but he was saving it so that on the last day he could buy a HiFi to take back to his Bulgaria or Romania! I just could not believe this guy!

Ron laughs. He's finished his sandwich and throws the wrapping in the bin.

RON (CONT'D)

No I have nothing against him, in fact the paper he delivered on branching instability was brilliant! We could not believe he achieved that on the old junk of equipment he used!

Teresa looks at him, clearly hurt.

TERESA

Have you ever been to any East-European countries?

RON

Oh I went to Moscow once. In 94. For a conference. It was great but I almost lost my liver!...

He notices the drawing on Teresa's counter and turns his head to see it better.

Hugo's head appears above his levitation chamber.

HUGO

You know I've always felt sympathetic towards communist ideas...

TERESA

I don't think you realize...

HUGO

(gently interrupting)

... and scientists!...

RON

(with laugh)

Especially the female scientists from Dresden!

He stretches to get the snowflake drawing and looks at it with attention.

Teresa shakes head and turns away. She studies the monitor showing a small crystal, which has formed around the particle.

HUGO

(reconciliatory)

We have all fallen in love with you, Teresa.

JULIA

I should not say it in front of Teresa, but I felt sorry to see your Wall go. Walls slow down the entropy... But may be I am just being Jewish...

GUILLAUME, a young man with long hair and round black glasses, appears with a tray with four coffee cups. He catches some cables on the floor and stumbles. The cups shake, spilling the coffee on the tray.

GUILLAUME

I am sorry I'll make a fresh one!

Hugo takes the tray from Guillaume and heads decisively to the kitchen.

HUGO

I can't wait another forty minutes! One more incident like that and you'll be relegated to applied biophysics...

Ron takes his eyes off the drawing.

RON

Extreme random fluctuations of temperature and ultra-violet radiation, I think. Am I right, Teresa?...

He turns around to Guillaume.

RON (CONT'D)

Come closer, don't be shy, you are forgiven for the coffee you spilled so awfully...

Guillaume delicately squeezes closer to the desk.

TERESA

What about the asymmetrical branching?

RON

What's its substance?

TERESA

I don't know. It appeared to be solid and transparent. It's grown in a low gravity environment, possibly in a vacuum chamber with induced influences.

RON

Curious. Where did you find it?

TERESA

I... I saw some footage from a Russian Space Station.

Ron stamps his hand down and jumps down from the table.

RON

Here we are, the brainy Soviet spies again!

Guillaume delicately coughs to intervene.

GUILLAUME

There are no manned Russian spacecrafts at the moment. An old station waiting to be de-orbited, that's all.

JULIA

It must have been an old experiment.

RON

Perhaps, a 'top Russian secret', eh? No hope for us, unless doctor Teresa calls up her former friends in Moscow...

HUGO (O.S.)

(from the coffee machine)

You can buy any old Russian secret now, you know? On the Internet...

JULIA

(to Teresa)

When did you see it?

TERESA

Oh, I don't know. Perhaps I had a dream.

Ron gives her a friendly slap on the shoulder.

RON

Don't waste your time dreaming about Russian cosmonauts! Dream about good-looking Canadian professors instead!

He looks around, winks to Julia and laughs. Julia looks disapprovingly and shakes her head. Teresa doesn't answer, takes the sketch and withdraws to her equipment.

JULIA

By the way, Guillaume, who was that very serious first-year student with you in the cafeteria the other day? It was not Amelie, was it? And it was not Brigitte? And it was not even Marie-Claude?

Guillaume blushes and pushes up his glasses. Ron and Hugo laugh.

Teresa looks at her monitor in frustration.

The crystal, forgotten halfway through in Teresa's experiment, has melted and falls down as a drop of water.

The sign 'ERROR! IRREGULAR CONDITIONS!' is flashing on the computer screen.

EXT. RESEARCH CENTRE - daY

Julia and Teresa exit the building. Julia is wearing a shapeless Canadian parka and snow-boots, contrasting with Teresa's elegant but inappropriate coat and high-heeled boots.

JULIA

I am going for lunch to Romeo's. Want to come?

TERESA

No thanks, I'm not hungry.

JULIA

I'll pay for you.

Teresa shakes her head.

TERESA

I am not Petrovchick. I'll see you later in the lab.

EXT. STREET (NEAR SEA) - DAY

Teresa walks along the quay stretching along the frozen waters of Saint-Laurence river. She passes the war monument in a form of an anti-aircraft canon, and an outdoor skating rink, empty except for a SCHOOL-AGE BOY practising his ice-hockey skills.

The air is filled with big fluffy snowflakes, which have a tint of black in them. Teresa stops and watches the snowflakes fall.

CU She lets a snowflake land on a flat piece of glass, then uses an eye-dropper to cover it with a drop of liquid. The liquid momentarily dries forming a shell around the flake.

CU Teresa puts the piece of glass with the 'snowflake fossil' in a plastic container and takes out a new glass plate. This time she uses a brush to pick up a snowflake from a tree branch and to put it on the glass.

A WOMAN WITH A CHILD walks by. The woman looks at Teresa with puzzlement. The child is intrigued.

CHILD

What is the lady doing?

WOMAN

It looks like she's catching snowflakes, dear.

CHILD

Why?

WOMAN

May be she'll make some Christmas decorations with them...

TWO STUDENTS walking along the street stop and watch Teresa.

STUDENT 1

It would be more efficient with a net, like you know, a kind of a butterfly net...

Teresa smiles.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB - DAY

The lab looks empty except for Hugo who is eating something from a plastic box in front of the computer. He raises his head to greet Teresa who puts down her container with snowflake fossils and takes off the coat.

HUGO

You have a visitor.

TERESA

A visitor?

Hugo points to the kitchen. Teresa looks around the corner. To her surprise, she sees Gaston leaning over a disassembled coffee machine.

HUGO (O.S.)

I offered coffee but as you can guess it did not quite work, and Gaston kindly said he'd have a look...

Gaston smiles to Teresa.

TERESA

Something happened?

GASTON

I was repairing the decoder at the department of economics and thought I'd stop by. Have you eaten?

TERESA

I've had my lunch break already. Actually you're not supposed to be here...

Gaston nods and turns to the coffee machine. Teresa waits for him to say something, but he doesn't.

LATER. Hugo is holding a cup of fresh steaming coffee. Similar cup is on Ron's desks. Ron is working on the computer.

Guillaume, also with a cup of coffee, is adjusting the brightness of a monitor connected to Teresa's levitation chamber.

Gaston, now dressed in the white gown, is sitting by the monitor. Julia is standing in front of him, engaged in conversation.

JULIA

Why did you leave the air force?

GASTON

I was posted to Yugoslavia, the bombing started and I felt that we were doing wrong. When I returned, I asked to be decommissioned.

Julia shakes her head in amazement.

JULIA

Don't you think they were war criminals who needed a good... bomb or two?!

Teresa, trying not to breath, carefully turns the temperature control. There is a humming sound, and the chamber fills with semi-transparent suspension.

Gaston puts his finger to his lips and turns to the monitor.

On the monitor, a small crystal starts forming around the particle.

Gaston watches with full attention. He moves his chair closer, inadvertently knocking the chamber with his elbow.

TERESA

Careful, please!

The image on the monitor shakes and disappears. Gaston turns around, looking lost and guilty. Teresa turns off the switch, gets up from the chair in frustration and walks out of the room.

JULIA

Ai-iai-iai!

RON

She needs to learn to take it philosophically.

Gaston takes off his gown, folds it and puts on the edge of the table.

HUGO

(to Gaston)

Don't worry. And thank you for coffee anyway.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR - EVENING

Saga, with a pensive expression and fully dressed, is sitting in the middle of the corridor on a pile of boxes with Nicole's merchandise.

The bathroom door and the door of Nicole's bedroom are open. Half-dressed Nicole runs past Teresa from the bathroom to the bedroom. Teresa takes off her coat.

TERESA

(bemused)

Good evening.

Nicole pops her head from the bedroom, at the same time changing into other trousers.

NICOLE

Today is a crafts fair at the university...

Nicole disappears.

SAGA

(readily explaining)

Mummy has a stand there, and we are late because I was a nuisance again.

Teresa shakes her head in disapproval.

TERESA

You don't need to take Saga, I'll stay with her.

She lifts Saga off the boxes, puts her on the floor and starts unwrapping her scarf. Nicole appears in front of Teresa, dressed, touching her hair with a brush.

NICOLE

Thanks so much!... How do I look?

Teresa turns to her.

TERESA

Normal.

Nicole shakes her head.

NICOLE

I mean...  Do you like what I wear?

Teresa looks at Nicole's top with a deep-cut cleave.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

Come on, Teresa!... Do I look fine?... I mean, attractive? Or should I change into something else?

Teresa studies Nicole, who begs her with her eyes.

TERESA

You are fine. I think you look beautiful... Why are you asking?

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - EVENING

Saga is sitting on Teresa's settee with a bunch of coloured pencils, paper, scissors, a glue-stick and a couple of Teresa's wedding invitations. She is drawing Teresa's portrait.

Teresa is at the table, labelling her snowflake 'fossils'. The drawing with the space crystal is handing on the wall by the table.

Saga finishes colouring Teresa's face. She takes one of the invitations, gets off the settee and walks to the wall to see the drawing closer.

Teresa turns around.

TERESA

Are you alright?

Saga nods. She studies the snowflake sketch and goes back to the settee.

TERESA (CONT'D)

(intrigued)

What are you doing?

Teresa's sketch of the space crystal. Saga's hands drawing something similar, then cutting it out with the scissors.

Teresa is sitting by Saga, watching. Saga takes the glue stick and glues the snowflake besides Teresa's face

SAGA

What are these pretty cards?

Pointing to the invitation

TERESA

They are my wedding invitations.

SAGA

Where's your husband?

TERESA

He ran away before the wedding.

SAGA

Like my dad?

TERESA

Probably. Ran very far away.

SAGA

How far is far away?

TERESA

I don't know.

SAGA

A hundred kilometres? Four hundred kilometres? A thousand kilometres?

TERESA

I think four hundred kilometres is far away enough.

SAGA

I will fall in love only with someone who can't run. Someone who is handicapped and doesn't have legs. When you love someone, your heart becomes very hot, and it can melt the ice. True?

TERESA

Perhaps.

SAGA

I want my mummy.

TERESA

She'll be home soon.

INT. UNIVERSITY, STUDENT UNION CLUB, CRAFTS FAIR - EVENING

A row of TABLES with improvised stalls: one sells BOOKS by 'Quebec Anarchist Publications'... next urges to sign a PETITION to save 'Maple Creek Nature Resort' in North Quebec... third has a display of NEW-AGE AMULETS, ORGANIC SHAMPOOS and TEE-SHIRTS with 'women self-empowering initiative' logo...  A BIG SCREEN at the back of the hall shows enlarged images of the PEOPLE IN THE HALL, serving as a giant mirror.

Nicole's stand is set between a SECOND-HAND BOOK COUNTER and a 'SILVER THREAD' AFTER-50TH WEAVING SOCIETY. Her table presents a sample selection of brightly coloured sex toys, with a pile of catalogues on the edge of the table. The sign says: 'A 100 THINGS WE DON'T NEED A MAN FOR'.

Nicole looks around. She notices Gilles across the room speaking to other people. Their eyes met. He smiles and makes his way through the crowd towards her.

He is about to say something, when a CAMERAMAN and A GIRL WITH A MICROPHONE appear in front of Nicole. The girl sees Gilles and loses all her confidence.

GILLES

(encouraging)

Don't be shy Brigitte. Remember the seminar. Think about the aim of the reportage.

The girl smiles weakly and turns to Nicole.

GIRL WITH A MICROPHONE

Your stall is one of the most fascinating at the fair. Could you tell us a little bit about your merchandise?

Taken aback, Nicole smiles helplessly.

The cameraman focuses on Nicole in front of the sign 'A 100 THINGS WE DON'T NEED A MAN FOR'.

Nicole face appears on the big screen. She makes a grimace to herself.

NICOLE

Well, it's aimed at women of all ages who want to liberate pleasure from the monopoly of love... and love from the monopoly of pleasure. That's all.

A FEMALE STUDENT buys one of the boxes. Nicole gives her change and smiles.

GIRL WITH A MICROPHONE

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Nicole glances at Gilles.

NICOLE

No. Times have changed, I wouldn't use these terms. I can say that I am in search of a more whole human being.

The girl with a microphone gains her ground.

GIRL WITH A MICROPHONE

But don't you think it is only love, which renders us whole?

Gilles looks at Nicole. She avoids his eyes.

NICOLE

It's a complex question. I am not ready to answer it now.

GIRL WITH A MICHROPHONE

We see that the male public is interested in your merchandise as well...

The girl stretches her hand with a microphone to Gilles.

GILLES

Oh, no Brigitte. But if you insist, I'll confess that I weave as a hobby and I came to see this marvellous display by the 'Silver Thread'.

The audience LAUGHS, WHISTLES and APPLAUDS.

The girl with a microphone and the cameraman move away, and the noise of the crowd recedes. Gilles and Nicole look at each other, smiling in silence.

GILLES (CONT'D)

(very quietly)

If I buy everything which is on your display, can we escape?

NICOLE

(in the same manner)

What would you do with all this?

GILLES

(even quieter)

I won't tell you.

Nicole smiles, nods and starts packing away her merchandise. Gilles mindlessly looks through the second hand book display. The VENDOR, an older man with a beard and long silver hair, looks at him with attention.

VENDOR

Monsieur Lecointe?

Gilles raises his eyes.

GILLES

Oh hello Jacques.

VENDOR

I have a surprise for you. Let me see if I've got it here...

He looks through the pile of books and triumphantly pulls out a thin battered paperback.

GILLES

Oh no Jacques!

The vendor turns to Nicole. Nicole takes the book, looks with amazement.

NICOLE

Gilles Lecointe. Les Pierres Siliencieuses. A collection of poems. Published 1986. Wow!

GILLES

Give it to me Nicole. It's nothing. It's rubbish.

NICOLE

(ignoring him)

How much is it?

VENDOR

Ten dollars. Only ten dollars. It's a rare edition, you see.

GILLES

Nicole you won't do it.

NICOLE

Of course I will.

(to the vendor)

Can we barter?

Gilles waves his arm and turns away in a half-exaggerated gesture of despair.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa is at the desk, filling a piece of paper with formulas and graphs. The drawing of the dendrite crystal is pinned on the wall above her desk.

VOICES OF GILLES AND NICOLE are heard from the outside, in the silence of the street.

Teresa lifts up the blind. She sees the silhouette of two people in embrace under a street-light and drops down the blind.

She sits back to the table.

THE SOUND OF STEPS as Nicole runs up the stairs, then the KEY opening the front door. Teresa waits, listening.

Nicole gently TAPS on her door.

TERESA

Yes.

Nicole enters.

NICOLE

I'm glad you are awake... How's Saga?

TERESA

Did you have good time?

Nicole nods, clutching Gilles' book to her chest.

NICOLE

Very good time, wonderful time... Listen I want you to hear something...

She opens the book, quickly leafs.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

(reading from the book)

Je pousse ma bicyclette sur le chemin des jours ordinaries

Qu'un ingÈnieur fourbe et fripon a trouvÈ d'invisible chutes

Dix fois cent fois comme une caresse d'Ècume comme ta main

Me frolent de leur vertige des reves aux visages gommÈs

Je pousse ma bicyclette sur le chemin des jours ordinaries

Sous cette splendeur que la vie abandonne pafois au ciel...

It's beautiful, isn't it?

TERESA

I can't really appreciate poetry in a foreign language.

Nicole laughs and hides her face behind the book.

NICOLE

You are silly, Teresa! It is beautiful. I need to tell you something... Am I disturbing you?

TERESA

Go on.

NICOLE

It's my secret, but I need to tell someone, I can't be silent... I love that man... You know him... Well, I may as well say it straight out... the neighbour...

TERESA

You can't do that!

NICOLE

But what am I to do?

(Clutches her head)

At first I thought him strange... then I felt pity for him... then I've realized that I love him... love him with his voice, his words, his face, his laughter...

TERESA

Nicole, he's married. I'm not listening anymore.

NICOLE

Oh, Teresa. You are silly. I love him - so that's my fate. And he... It's all terrifying. Yes?

She takes Teresa by the hand and draws her closer to herself.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

Oh, my darling Teresa... How are we going to live our lives, what will become of us? I've confessed it to you, now I'll hold my tongue... silence... silence...

Nicole puts the hand to her mouth.

EXT/INT. STREET/ NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

It snows outside.

Teresa is standing pressing her forehead against the glass. The house is silent.

One big snowflake sparkles in the street light. It dances on the backdrop reflection of the room and the dark television. The television screen illuminates. Teresa turns around.

The television screen is lit, and Ivan is on the screen.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM/SPACE STATION - NIGHT/DAY

Teresa crouches in front of the television, adjusts the volume and brightness.

INT. SPACE STATION - DAY

Ivan shows the camera a short flexible silver hose.

IVAN

(in Russian)

I've found a hose but don't know what it's for. There is a marking on it... letters TSP and a number 901 ... wait I'll show you closer...

He leaves the frame and reappears closer in front of the camera, holding the hose towards it.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

(in Russian)

Vanya, Anatoly Konstantinovich's there. He'd like to speak to you.

Ivan nods, puts the hose away, steps aside and reappears in his old place.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

(in Russian)

How are you, Vanya?

IVAN

Everything's fine, thank you. Lonely a bit, of course, so I hope the emergency crew won't be delayed much more...

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

You are doing a great job, Vanya, we much appreciate it.

IVAN

(smiles)

I know.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Now... We are all worrying about the situation with gyrodynes.

IVAN

I've tried everything I could think of, but so far I have not been able to get them going. We need a new computer here, I've already requested to include one with the cargo. So at the moment I have to keep correcting manually using altitude control thrusters.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

There is increased solar activity forecast starting next week. We are afraid you won't have enough fuel to keep correcting the position.

IVAN

Your suggestions?

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Under these circumstances a decision has been made to proceed with an emergency re-entry of the station.

The voice pauses. Ivan digests the news.

IVAN

(carefully choosing words)

Anatoly Konstantinovich, I think that is a wrong decision. Don't worry, I'll hang on here. I'll use fuel in a careful manner, we'll do calculations with the ground. All life support systems function well, I've repaired the TSC. It's true the station needs a new computer, once it's here we'll be able to get gyrodynes working. The sooner you send the crew, the faster we'll have it up and running. The station has a substantial life time left, I can provide a written report on all systems.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Listen, even if we had a Soyuz built already, we won't get a crew to you in time - you are already losing about a thousand meters a day, and no one could afford to have the station fall down as Salyut did.

IVAN

I see... So how are you planning to de-orbit it without a working computer?

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

We don't know yet. We wanted to have your input.

IVAN

(after a pause)

Once when I was six or seven I jumped from a tall slide on the playground, to see if I was brave enough. I broke my arm, but the kids started calling me 'Vanya-cosmonaut'. How much time do we have?

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

We think about ten days, but it might be less. The atmosphere is very uneven.

IVAN

For everything?

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

For everything.

IVAN

I see.

Ivan touches a cable on the wall. The cable pops out from the holder, and a panel covering the insides of the wall slowly swings open.

IVAN (CONT'D)

I have something I need to attend to.

He reaches to the panel. The image disappears.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa turns the controls trying to find the image. Instead, the screen is filled with flickers and white stripes.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Where is he, goddamn it...

OPERATOR 2 (O.S.)

Diamond, diamond, the ground is calling you... Diamond do you hear me... Diamond...

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Don't you understand the situation!

OPERATOR 2 (O.S.)

Diamond, diamond...

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

Don't worry, Anatoly Konstantinovich, Vanya won't do anything silly.

OPERATOR 2 (O.S.)

Diamond, diamond... the ground is calling...

Finally the white flickering on the screen disappears, and the station interior appears again.

Teresa moves closer, her face illuminated by the blinking of the screen.

INT. RUSSIAN SPACE STATION - DAY

Ivan moves away from the camera, coming into focus.

IVAN

I am sorry I lost the connection for a moment... Anatoly Konstantinovich, I think the most reliable way would be to realign the station manually, and to use the thrusters of Soyuz to de-orbit it.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

(relieved)

Vanya, you...

IVAN

(not listening to him)

The most reliable way. Right? So that's the story, guys. Pity I parted so badly with Sveta, argued with her, an idiot. But nothing doing now... So what recommendation do you have? Will we load 'Raduga'? I can put data for experiments and books... at least the ones with Tziolkovsky's autographs.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Vanya, we'll try to arrange to get you out with a shuttle...

IVAN

Wishful thinking, Anatoly Konstantinovich. It would cost a huge amount of money, and who would find it now, if for three months there has been no money to send an emergency crew to me! Don't worry so much, Anatoly Konstantinovich, I'll do what's needed.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

We are not giving up just yet, Vanya. We'll fight for you.

IVAN

Of course, Anatoly Konstantinovich. Everything is fine. The only thing... I wish I could see your faces, guys...

Ivan moves closer to the camera. His face fills the screen, his eyes looking straight at Teresa.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa raises her hand and hesitantly touches the screen with Ivan's face.

The image disappears.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB, KITCHEN - MORNING

Teresa fills the coffee machine with coffee, pours in water. She washes five cups, meticulously dries them with a towel and puts in a row on the counter.

HUGO (O.S.)

Storm warning for tonight, everyone be careful on your way home.

Hugo passes by the kitchen corner, looks at Teresa with interest.

HUGO (CONT'D)

We have a new candidate for Guillaume's position of 'honorary coffee maker'...

RON

(from behind the lab equipment)

'Coffee brewer'...

JULIA

(from behind the lab equipment)

'Coffee burner' in Guillaume's case... He's late today.

RON

Oh, women, women!...

Teresa presses a button. The coffee machine becomes LOUDER and LOUDER, resembling an aircraft taking off.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB - MORNING

Guillaume walks into the lab. He is out of breath and has a pile of photocopies in hand.

GUILLAUME

I'm sorry I am late.

Ron sticks out his head.

RON

Indeed you are!... I think we'll have to close your project!

HUGO

Relegate him to applied biochemistry!

Guillaume doesn't pay attention. He looks around, concerned.

JULIA

(to Guillaume)

Are you looking for something? Someone?

GUILLAUME

Teresa?

Julia points to the kitchen, from where the SOUND of a coffee-maker is coming.

JULIA

Making coffee.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB, KITCHEN - MORNING

Teresa turns to Guillaume, anxious.

GUILLAUME

(loudly over the sound of the coffee machine)

I found the full list...

The coffee-maker stops. Teresa shakes her head and puts a finger to the mouth.

GUILLAUME (CONT'D)

(continues in whisper)

...of twenty-nine crews, hundred and seven people, and all experiments they conducted on board, according to NASA database...

He gives her the photocopied file. Teresa glances through the pages.

GUILLAUME (CONT'D)

...nothing on dendrites, I've checked already... The last crew left the Station in the beginning of the month. In fact, the last cosmonaut died on re-entry. Of a heart attack... So that's it. I've printed the transit schedule when the station is visible over Rimouski.

TERESA

Do you have his name?

Ron unexpectedly appears in the doorway.

RON

(loudly)

Secrets? Fascinating!... Be careful, Teresa, he's broken many women's hearts! Especially given the warning of the approaching storm...

Guillaume blushes and pushes up his glasses. Satisfied with the effect, Ron laughs and fills himself a cup of coffee.

Teresa shakes her head, collects the papers Guillaume has given her and walks out of the kitchen.

JULIA

(with reproach)

Professor Barnet!... What does the storm have to do with Guillaume's ability to break women's heart?

Slightly ashamed, Ron shrugs and slaps Guillaume on the back.

RON

Don't worry, young man... Come here, we need your help.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LIBRARY - DAY

Teresa stops at the counter. A LIBRARIAN, a dishevelled student in a tee-shirt, looks up from the computer.

TERESA

I need last week's newspapers... all that you have...

The librarian points towards the shelves.

Teresa takes out collections of bound newspapers. She leafs through.

She finds a small article about the 'space disaster'. It has a PICTURE OF IVAN, in an official cosmonaut's uniform instantly recognisable.

Teresa takes the newspapers to a photocopier. She spreads the paper on the glass top, presses the lid down and adjusts settings.

As a paper is ejected out by the copier we can see have time to read a few phrases: '...SPENT THREE MONTHS ALONE AFTER THE REST OF THE CREW HAD TO RETURN DUE TO THE SUDDEN ILLNESS OF... TECHNICAL PROBLEMS WITH THE STATION... LEAVING BEHIND AN OLD MOTHER AND A FIANCEE, SVETLANA, WHO LIVE IN SERPUHOV...'.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Teresa quickly walks along the street carrying a video recorder.

Somebody heavily runs after her. She turns around to see Gaston, out of breath.

GASTON

You walk very fast.

TERESA

I'm in a hurry.

GASTON

Do you want me to show you a short-cut?

Without waiting for her reply he takes the VCR from her. They continue along the street, Teresa with preoccupied expression and Gaston carrying her VCR.

EXT. alley - DAY

They turn into a narrow alley between the rows of two-storey buildings and pass by several rubbish bins, and cardboard boxes of various sizes, covered with snow. Teresa glances around with surprise but follows Gaston.

GASTON

Winter is most cruel in March. The Sun wakes up and disturbs the air. The boots I brought for you, if you wore them they'd keep you warm.

TERESA

(coming back from her thoughts)

What?... Yes of course... Gaston, can you tell me, is it possible for a signal, if it's coming from... say, a satellite...  to be stranded, and to reach the Earth a few days, or even a week, later? Like it happens sometimes with emails?

Gaston considers the question.

GASTON

Not impossible... Like a ray of light lost in a thousand of mirrors... or like a thought lost between one person and another.

Teresa walks a few steps in silence, thinking.

Gaston suddenly stops. He walks to a dark pile by the wall. The pile turns out to be A MAN sleeping on a 'mattress' made of flattened cardboard boxes. Gaston stumbles over an empty beer can. He picks it up and throws against the wall. The man opens his eyes, blindly looks around and falls unconscious again.

Gaston takes a handful of snow and forcefully rubs it against the man's face and shoulders. The man makes a groaning sound and starts coughing.

GASTON (CONT'D)

(to Teresa)

Could you pass me...

He nods to a flatten cardboard lying besides. Teresa moves forward and drags the cardboard closer to Gaston. Gaston carefully lowers Peter down on it.

GASTON (CONT'D)

We need to stop by the corner shop to tell them he's here again. I fear one day he'll freeze to death...

Something attracts Teresa's attention. There is a recycling box lying on its side filled with what appears to be old books. One is lying open on the ground, powdered with snow. Teresa picks it up. It's an old photo album. Black-and-white family pictures show first a mother and a little child learning to walk,a BOY with a young pioneer tie, then A TEENAGER, then a YOUNG MAN: playing football, skiing, celebrating a New Year, sky-diving... The pictures have hand-written inscriptions in Russian underneath.

TERESA

(to Gaston)

Is he Russian?

GASTON

Who? Peter?... I don't think so... Why?

TERESA

Just...

Gaston glances at the box.

GASTON

Oh this... He's a keeper... checks people's rubbish, picks up things he likes...

TERESA

Do you know him?

GASTON

Not really. But it's a small town. And he's a human being... You can take it if you want, he wouldn't mind.

Teresa shakes her head, puts the album back in the box and gets up, shivering. Gaston looks at her with attention.

GASTON (CONT'D)

Are you cold? Want my parka?

EXT. SEA WALK - DAY

Gilles and Nicole walk together bellow the city embankment, along the tide line, now frozen and white. The silhouettes of the centre of the town are smudged by the fast-falling wet snow. Gilles is wheeling along his bike.

Nicole leans down and grabs the snow from the frozen water. She looks at the snow melting in her palm and tries the taste of it.

Gilles looks at her, smiling.

GILLES

Should I buy you something to eat?

NICOLE

The snow is the only thing I can eat.

Gilles stops, takes Nicole's shoulders and turns Nicole towards himself to look in her eyes.

GILLES

I have nothing to offer.

NICOLE

Oh that's not true. You can offer friendship. Kinship. A cup of coffee once a week at the student union shop. Letters. Poems.

GILLES

Nicole I can't fit you in my life without destroying it. And as for writing... I don't write anymore.

NICOLE

It doesn't fit in your life either, right?

She runs the hand with the snow along her face. Then she raises her hand and does the same to Gilles. The water from the melting snow runs down their faces.

NICOLE (CONT'D)

Oh poor Gilles, he has to kill his heart... because it doesn't fit in his life!

Gilles is silent.

Nicole turns around, grabs his bike, jumps on it and rides away. Gilles remains motionless, helplessly watching her go, on his own bike!

EXT. STREETS - EVENING

Blasts of the wet wind carrying a mixture of snow and water bend and swing trees around.

A garbage can is blown away from the house, rolling along the street. The sound is muted by the wind and snow.

A satellite dish flies down from the roof.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

A table light on, Teresa is waiting by the television screen, the VCR plugged in and ready to record. The screen remains dark.

The table light goes off, together with the stand-by light of the VCR and the slight glow of the television.

In the darkness Teresa flicks the switch with no effect.

The LED display on the clock radio is not visible, and the room is lit up by a strange bluish light that sometimes turns orange.

Teresa looks outside...

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, STREET - NIGHT

...All lights are off on the street, including the streetlights. In the eerie darkness the wind is throwing around snow and rain.

The electrical transformers on the street poles are shorting out with loud popping sound. One transformer explodes into a colourful fireworks-like display.

Its light illuminates the street, revealing a lonely figure (peter) stumbling in the tempest dragging something behind, and a damaged satellite dish lying on the ground.

The wind hauls and throws wet snow on the houses.

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, STREET/ROOF - DAY

Gaston's hands pick up the satellite dish from the ground.

Bright sunny day, which bears no trace of the storm the previous night, except for the tree with a broken branch in front of Gilles' house. The satellite dish is re-attached on the roof of Nicole's house. Gaston's van disappears around the corner of the street, where TWO REPAIR MEN in a cherry-picker by the pole are replacing the exploded transformer.

A MAN is walking his dog along the street. The dog is busy sniffing the snow. The man walks behind with a plastic bag in hand. The dog lingers in front of Gilles' house. Gilles comes out, passes the dog with a friendly smile and nods to the man.

Man with a dog

Quite a storm it was last night!

GILLES

Quite a storm indeed.

Gilles removes a flyer stuck under the windscreen wipers of his car and throws it to the blue recycling box. He looks around as if expecting to see his bike parked by the fence. The bike is not there.

MAN WITH A DOG

(crouching to pick up dog's poop)

Peter's died you know.

GILLES

Oh dear!

MAN WITH A DOG

Yeaa...

(to the dog)

Here we go...

(back to Gilles)

Police picked him up but too late.

GILLES

Oh, it's too bad.

MAN WITH A DOG

Well we all saw it coming.

Gilles looks at Nicole's house, hesitates, but doesn't go there and proceeds along the street on foot.

Teresa is walking on the opposite side of the street, with a carton of milk and a newspaper in hand. Gilles glances at her but Teresa looks away.

She stops at the corner with an alley, lifts the empty rolling garbage bin and pushes it to the wall. The alley is covered with debris scattered around by the storm. She hesitantly walks in, looks around. Peter's place is empty, and the small pile of his things is now gone.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, living ROOM - daY

Nicole is lying in the living room on the settee facing the wall, wrapped in a blanket. The radio is softly broadcasting NEWS from the kitchen. Half-packed parcels and papers are piled on the desk by Nicole's computer.

Teresa's hands holds a small round glass container and a screw-driver, the end of which is wrapped in cotton and inflamed. Teresa heats the inside of the jar and puts the jar on Nicole's bare back. The jar sticks, sucking the skin in. Teresa takes another one.

V.O. ANNOUNCER

...In Germany, officials in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia immediately decided to slaughter all sheep imported from France in the last three weeks...

TeRESA

The best remedy for bronchitis. My mum insisted I took it with me to Canada...

NICOLE

I don't have a bronchitis. I can't breath because I wake up and all my cells are longing for him.

TERESA

I think you should take up yoga. It helps to deal with emotional difficulties...

NICOLE

You are silly, Teresa. How can I do yoga with him living next door?

Nicole moves, the glass containers clank.

TERESA

Don't move... I'll take the bike back later tonight when I go to pick up Saga.

NICOLE

No.

Teresa picks up another container.

TERESA

Just two more left.

In the silence the radio comes in again.

V.O. ANNOUNCER

According to unconfirmed reports from Moscow, a last-minute offer to save the last remaining on orbit module of the Russian Space Station came from Iranian President Mohammed Khatani, who toured Mission Control during his visit to Russia last week...

Teresa freezes, holding the flame inside the jar.

NICOLE

I feel like my heart is...

TERESA

(interrupting)

Wait...

She listens to the radio.

V.O. ANNOUNCER

...The speaker of the Russian Parliament Gennady Seleznev also made a call to save the Station calling it the symbol of Russian space achievements. He points to what he calls a sophisticated conspiracy plot designed to give NASA and the United States an unrivalled hegemony in space. Observers largely dismiss the statement as a purely political ploy. Officials claimed to have restored full control over the module, and are planning to use the Station's thrusters in the controlled re-entry operation to be conducted next week... Can we put a dollar value on mothers' milk? This question and many more are the subject of a paper...

Teresa finally places the jar on Nicole's back. Nicole screams.

TERESA

I am sorry!... I think there is a man there, on the Russian station. A cosmonaut.

NICOLE

(incredulous)

A cosmonaut?

INT. RUSSIAN SPACE STATION - DAY

Hanging upside down Ivan looks in the illuminator. He floats to the camera and slowly turns it to face the centre of the block. As the camera turns it catches some glimpses of Ivan's cabin - a picture of a young woman (SVETLANA), a hand-written note and a black and white picture of a mother and a little child learning to walk, exactly like the one in Peter's album...

As Ivan is moving the camera, we can see the nametag on his suite, saying in Russian and English 'Ivan Nekrassov'.

Once the camera has been adjusted, Ivan moves away, attaching himself to the railing of the cabin's table.

The basic block looks tidy comparing with its normal state - it seems that all spare cables have been put away, and there is no free floating objects... And Ivan looks fresh and glowing in anticipation of something.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

(in Russian)

...You look well.

IVAN

(in Russian)

I've just shaved, thought I'd better, before mum sees me...

He smiles. There is an awkward silence and confusion at the other end, and after the noises the voice of Anatoly Konstantinovich comes in.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

Vanya, unfortunately permission for communications with relatives has been withdrawn. So that she doesn't get upset. She is a mother, you see, she would feel something is going on.

Ivan is silent. His buoyant mood has disappeared, and the glow is gone.

IVAN

Pity... I've cleaned here today...

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

You should understand, Vanya. It's easier for her like that... She'll remember you happy. Don't worry we'll provide for her. She will have a good pension, can't be otherwise when her son is a hero. We'll help your sister with a new apartment. I'll take care of it myself...

Ivan doesn't seem to listen to Anatoly's apologies.

IVAN

Sereja, how is she there?

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

I'll drop by today after the shift.

IVAN

I've remembered the other day... There is a library book, on the stool near my bed... It would be good if it could be returned somehow, ah?... It must be cold in Moscow, the Earth's white... And Svetlana... Svetlana... Give her a balloon, you know, but it should be bright green.

ANATOLY KONSTANTINOVICH (O.S.)

What are you talking about, Vanya?

IVAN

(ignoring Anatoly)

But don't forget, Sereja, a bright green one!... Well, that's it then.

The container with the crystal slowly appears between the camera and Ivan, floats across the screen and disappears. Ivan almost puts down the radio microphone, but raises it up for one last question.

IVAN (CONT'D)

How's Spartak?

OPERATOR 1(O.S.)

Lost again, this time four - nil.

IVAN

To whom?

OPERATOR 1(O.S.)

Bayern Munich.

IVAN

Well, Bayern is a good team.

He puts down the microphone and turns away from the camera. The image disappears.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa stops the recording, rewinds it and presses play. Ivan appears again on the screen. Teresa pauses the recording, contemplating the black and white photograph, then plays the tape further.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

(in Russian)

...You look well.

IVAN

(in Russian)

I've just shaved, thought I'd better, before mum sees me...

Teresa watches with intense attention.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB - EARLY MORNING

Teresa is alone in the lab, at the computer. She searches the Internet.

Different data-bases pop out on the computer screen: Russian phone directories, addresses, property status, passport information, driving licenses, car accident reports...

Teresa fills in her credit card information, types in Ivan's name. An address and a telephone number in Serpuhov appear on the screen. She writes the information down.

Teresa checks the time on the lab's clock and reaches for the telephone.

The loud laughter of Ron who enters the lab, stops her. Ron is lingering by the door to finish a CONVERSATION with SOMEONE INVISIBLE in the corridor.

Teresa puts the phone down, grabs her coat and dashes out, passing Ron, who looks at her with puzzlement.

EXT. STREET, PUBLIC PHONE - MORNING

Teresa waits with the receiver in her hand, her heart loudly beating somewhere in her throat. Finally, the phone is picked up.

IVAN'S MOTHER (O.S.)

(in Russian)

Allo... Allo!... Allo!... I can't hear you!...

TERESA

(in Russian)

I want to speak to you about Ivan...

IVAN'S MOTHER (O.S.)

(in Russian, angrily)

Ivan? What Ivan? Ivan's died, he's dead, don't you know?!

(starts crying)

Buried him with my own hands... my only joy... Ivanushka!..

TERESA

(in Russian)

Please listen to me. Ivan is alive. I have a video with Ivan on the Station... I want you to speak to the ground control centre. I will send video to you...

IVAN'S MOTHER (O.S.)

(in Russian)

Don't know what you are talking about... Fedya, what is she talking about?! Some mad women... Stop abusing me, you, do you hear me?! There is no more Ivan, no more... Go speak to those, in the Space Ministry... I don't need anything....

TERESA

Can I speak to Svetlana?

IVAN'S MOTHER (O.S.)

(in Russian)

What Svetlana? There was Svetlana and all has come to nothing. She has a fiancÈ now. Well, I can't blame her, can I?! She's a young thing, lust doesn't let her live calmly.... Leave us alone, dear, I have no tears left, no words, no voice...

Ivan's mother hangs up. Teresa stands still, the receiver in her hand.

INT. RESEARCH CENTRE, LAB - MORNING

In a dishevelled but determined state, Teresa walks into the lab, a newspaper in hand. She goes straight to Hugo who is working on the flake-growing cubicle.

TERESA

I need a day off.

Hugo nods, without looking at her, concentrating on adjusting the needle.

HUGO

Of course, of course... When?

TERESA

Now.

Hugo looks up at her with surprise. He notices her state.

HUGO

Are you all right?

TERESA

I need to go to Montreal.

HUGO

I hope not alone? Romance is the only legitimate reason if you want to disappear in the middle of the week. Am I right, Ron?

TERESA

I'm going there to speak to the Canadian government.

HUGO

(puzzled)

The government?...

Ron and Julia turn around, listening.

TERESA

(after a hesitation)

I think there is a cosmonaut on the Russian Station, to be de-orbited this week. I don't want him to die!

Ron shakes his head.

RON

(gently)

Is this your... dream man... with the crystal?

He winks to Julia and Hugo.

RON (CONT'D)

(back to Teresa)

The end of March in Quebec is statistically the worst time to get all kinds of... vitamin deficiencies...

JULIA

(to Ron)

Could you stop, please.

(seriously, to Teresa)

How do you know?

TERESA

(turning to her in hope)

I see him. Every day. On my television. The communication sessions.

RON

Communications, voices ... I don't get anything on mine, even the CBC is fuzzy!

JULIA

(ignoring Ron)

Perhaps it's a recording, an older transmission?

TERESA

He discusses football! The European Champions League! Last night he mentioned the score, and look!

She shows the newspaper.

TERESA (CONT'D)

Bayern Munich four, Spartak nil!

The Russians announced he died, but he is still alive. I think they can't control the station otherwise...

JULIA

So what do you want to do?

TERESA

To save him.

RON

Oh how romantic, how socialist... and how naive!

JULIA

(to Teresa)

But why?! Do you want the Station to plunge on our heads, killing thousands of people?!... As far as I am concerned... even if it was true... He's chosen to be a solder, he follows orders, saves the world!.. It's a justified sacrifice and it probably makes him feel good. It would have made me feel good! Honestly!... If you want to speak about it to the Government, why don't you speak about the Middle East, about water pollution, about starving children in Africa...

TERESA

That's a cynical attitude!

JULIA

Not at all!

HUGO

Please, girls...

(to Teresa)

Look, if it were true, it would have been a top secret, you wouldn't be able to get un-encrypted transmissions... There are hundreds of thousands people like you all over the world watching satellite, you know... Why don't you talk to someone... a journalist... I have an old friend who teaches here, I'll call him now to see what he thinks.

He walks to his desk, dials a number and softly talks on the background.

RON

Dear Teresa, it's time to come back to Earth and give your precious heart to someone around you, not to a cosmonaut in the sky.

Teresa turns to him, fighting tears and anger.

RON (CONT'D)

(gently)

Look, we all love you and wish you well...

He makes an attempt to hug her but Teresa sways away.

RON (CONT'D)

Alright... silence, silence, silence...

He presses his hand to his mouth, turns around and pointedly tiptoes to his desk.

Guillaume walks into the lab with a pile of fresh newspapers and dispatches. Ron, relieved, stops tiptoeing and grabs Guillaume's elbow.

RON (CONT'D)

(to Guillaume)

Any good German news to cheer up our dear Teresa?

GUILLAUME

(readily)

Bayern Munich beat Spartak in semi-final.

RON

Don't you start this nonsense too!

Guillaume looks profoundly puzzled, almost offended, pushes up his glasses and goes to the kitchen. Julia pensively follows him with her eyes.

JULIA

If we think about it, Bayern Munich always beats Spartak...

RON

What are you talking about?

JULIA

Don't worry, it's European.

Hugo puts down the phone.

HUGO

(to Teresa)

He is waiting for you in his office, McPherson building, seventh floor, room 705.

Teresa nods, blows her nose, gets her backpack and walks past Ron, Julia, Guillaume and Hugo to the door.

JULIA

(softly, to Guillaume)

Could you please show her where it is.

Guillaume nods, grabs his coat and runs after Teresa. The rest look at each other.

RON

(about Guillaume and Teresa)

I am afraid he's not the right type for her. Charming but unsophisticated!

HUGO

Poor she. And pity the poor bugger on the station, dead or alive... I think it's your turn to make coffee, Ron!

INT. UNIVERSITY, GILLES' OFFICE - DAY

Teresa knocks at the door, left ajar.

VOICE (O.S.)

Come in.

Teresa enters and almost immediately exits again - the man at the desk is... Gilles! He is on the phone and makes an apologetic sign, pointing to an empty chair.

One wall of the office is all glass, looking down at the frozen St. Lawrence river and distant silhouettes of the city. The other walls are taken up by the shelves filled with books and papers.

Teresa sits down. Gilles looks at her with curiosity.

GILLES

(on the phone)

I disagree with you, but I can't talk about it now, I have someone waiting for me... Yes of course. Bye-bye.

He puts down the phone and smiles to Teresa.

GILLES (CONT'D)

Now, Hugo told me a bit about... your story... and that you want to go to Montreal... If it's true...

TERESA

I have a tape with the last transmission. And the newspaper with the football results he mentions. Do you want to watch?

Gilles looks at her, thinking.

GILLES

I think I've seen you in the neighbourhood... Do you know Nicole?

TERESA

I am her lodger.

They look at each other, silent for a moment.

GILLES

How do you want to go to Montreal?

TERESA

I've checked the timetable, there are buses leaving every two hours.

GILLES

Do you realise it's a five-hour journey?

Gilles gets up, takes his jacket and the scarf off the chair.

GILLES (CONT'D)

Let's watch the tape. If it's how you describe it, I'll drive you to Montreal.

EXT. STREET NEAR NICOLE'S HOUSE - DAY

Shifting from foot to foot, Teresa is waiting by Gilles' car. The engine is warming up. Gilles is energetically moving around, scraping the ice off the car windows. He glances at Teresa and opens the passenger door.

GILLES

Get inside, it's getting warmer.

As Teresa is getting inside the car, Nicole with a coat thrown over her shoulders walks down the steps of their house with a blue recycling box. She sees Gilles and Teresa and freezes. She puts the blue box on the ground and crosses the road to Gilles' car.

She ignores Gilles, walks around the car and bends over to Teresa's door.

NICOLE

I didn't know you knew each other.

TERESA

Listen, Nicole, I am going to Montreal to speak to the Canadian Space Agency about the cosmonaut, remember I told you?

NICOLE

A cosmonaut? What cosmonaut?!

TERESA

Yes, I told you. I need to save him. Gilles is a journalist, he is helping me. You'll catch a cold, go back to the house.

Nicole looks at Gilles. Gilles continues scraping the windows on the other side of the car, not looking at Nicole.

NICOLE

He's not a journalist! He is a little frightened man! He's stopped being a journalist years ago!... I'll be right back!

She runs across the road back to the house.  Gilles brushes off the snow scrapings and gets in the car. The engine is idling, slowly warming down.

GILLES

Should we go?

TERESA

Just a moment.

Traces of ice start melting on the windows.

Nicole knocks on the passenger's door window. Teresa opens it. Nicole pushes through a thermos and a plastic container.

NICOLE

Careful, it's coffee... and here are some sandwiches. It's a long trip.

TERESA

Could I ask you... I need you to record the transmission at...

She gets a piece of paper, unfolds it. It is a table of the Space Station transits printed by Guillaume.

TERESA (CONT'D)

Around eleven thirty in the evening. Just press 'record', it's all set up.

Nicole nods. Without ever looking at Gilles she steps aside and waves.

INT/EXT. GILLES' CAR - DAY

Teresa is silent, looking out the window onto a deserted landscape of white trees and white ground.

The RADIO in the car is softly on, broadcasting a daily programme of classical musical requests with a very enthusiastic female announcer.

GILLES

We have another two hours to go... I actually would not mind a drop of coffee.

Teresa nods. She carefully unscrews the lid and pours some coffee in it. The cup steams. Gilles stretches one hand, takes the coffee, drinks and returns the cup to Teresa.

GILLES (CONT'D)

The first summer I came to Canada, I drove to Vancouver, it took me five days. It's a big country.

TERESA

It's beautiful.

An arrangement of an old French Canadian song: ...'my father did not have a daughter but me, and he sent me far away in the sea'... is heard from the radio.

GILLES

Have you been here long?

TERESA

About a month.

GILLES

So you've probably been to Nicole's parties?

Teresa looks at him with attention.

TERESA

No I have not.

She turns away to the window. Gilles clears his throat.

GILLES

(after a pause)

What's your subject?

TERESA

A mathematical model to describe how the influences of outer world are transformed into the shape of snowflakes.

GILLES

Oh, I see. But they don't last for a long time.

TERESA

So I have to work very fast.

Gilles smiles.

GILLES

Do you like living in Quebec? Must be quite a change for you, ah?

TERESA

People are very nice here.

GILLES

Do you have your family back in Dresden?

TERESA

My parents still live in Dresden, but my sister with her husband and children are in Berlin.

GILLES

Nicole has a small child, doesn't she?

TERESA

Yes.

GILLES

Are you close friends?

Teresa looks at him.

TERESA

No. I am her lodger.

She is visibly disturbed by his insistence to speak about Nicole and doesn't want to continue the conversation. She turns away to the window.

INT. MONTREAL, CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY, RECEPTION HALL - DAY

Gilles holds a glass door letting Teresa into an empty hall with TWO SECURITY GUARDS at the counter in the middle. There is a small waiting area with soft chairs and a low table to the right.

GILLES

Take a seat. I used to know their public relations clerk, I'll see if I can find her.

He disappears.

Teresa sits down in a chair, clutching the backpack. Gilles walks to the security guards and softly talks to them. One of the guards picks up the phone and dials.

Teresa looks around.

A black car stops outside, letting out THREE MAN. TWO are dressed in grey suites, while the THIRD MAN (NICOLAI) has a pullover under his bulky unzipped parka and carries a briefcase.

The men in the suites respectfully open the door for the third. They glance at Teresa and walk straight pass the security guards, disappearing around the corner of a circular corridor.

Gilles comes back to Teresa. Teresa stands up from the chair.

GILLES (CONT'D)

(energetically)

She'll see us in ten minutes.

INT. MONTREAL, CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY, OFFICE - DAY

Gilles and Teresa sitting at a small office - a part of a bigger space separated with movable screens. PICTURES OF TWO SMILING CHILDREN are pinned to the cork board, together with a calendar and some printed notes. The CLERK (CHRISTINE), a middle-age woman with straight hair and a pleasant expression, is taking notes.

CLERK

Do you know the frequency of the transmission? Do you understand me? I am not talking too fast, am I?

TERESA

No.

CLERK

I am curious how you get it...

(to Gilles)

When it snows I can't even get the CBC here!...

GILLES

A friend installed a modified satellite receiver for her.

CLERK

Oh I see. I'll be right back.

She leaves the room with the tape. Gilles reassuringly smiles to Teresa. Teresa looks around. A silently rotating CCTV camera follows their movements.

A MAN glances in the office.

GILLES

She stepped out.

The man nods and disappears.

... The clerk comes back to the office with someone else. It is a SENIOR OFFICIAL, a tall middle-aged man in an impeccable suit. He smiles and stretches his arm to greet Teresa and Gilles.

SENIOR OFFICIAL

Sorry I kept you waiting. Very nice to meet you... I am George Andrews... I was in Germany last month... Where are you from, exactly?

TERESA

Dresden.

SENIOR OFFICIAL

A wonderful city, isn't it?...

He smiles.

SENIOR OFFICIAL (CONT.) (CONT'D)

Now, we've looked at your tape and appreciate your concern. However we don't have any reason not to believe our NASA colleagues who work closely with the Russian partners, and who confirm the station is unmanned at present. We can also confirm the tragic landing accident, which killed the cosmonaut Ivan Nekrassov two weeks ago. You see we are watching each other so closely these days that it is difficult I'd say impossible to stage anything like that!... As for your tape, it is an older recording broadcast for training purposes.

He smiles and spreads his arms. Gilles looks at Teresa.

TERESA

Ivan mentions the result of a football game, which took place only two days ago.

She digs in her backpack.

SENIOR OFFICIAL

Pardon?

GILLES

Teresa understands Russian and apparently the cosmonaut discussed the result of a European soccer game played last Sunday...

Teresa finally finds the newspaper and puts on the desk in front of the Senior Official. He glances at it.

SENIOR OFFICIAL

It's all very amusing. Do you seriously want us to take a soccer score as a proof? Have you checked if it was not the same the last month or the last year, or two years go? I am sorry to disappoint you....

(to Gilles)

We haven't had a case like that before, usually we deal with HAM enthusiasts recording alien transmissions!... Well, I have to leave you but Christine will give you a short tour around the agency... Are you travelling back tonight?

GILLES

Yes. Thank you for your time, much appreciated.

SENIOR OFFICIAL

You are journalist, aren't you? Do you want a KSC credential for Terminal Countdown in late April? We are processing applications now, so let me know.

He gives Gilles a friendly shove on the shoulder and leaves the room. Christine smiles to Gilles.

CHRISTINE

Here you are! It might make you consider writing again!...  Should we go? We have a delegation visiting for UVAI transmission from Interball Aurora so you might be able to see our ground control centre in action!

TERESA

Can I have the tape back?

CHRISTINE

I am sorry, we'll have to keep it on file.

TERESA

I see. In the German Democratic Republic it would have meant that there was something to hide.

Christine looks at her with concern.

CHRISTINE

But we are in Canada. I usually don't do this, but if it would make you feel better, I can see if we can have five minutes with the President of the Agency. He is an astronaut himself, and perhaps you'll find his words more convincing.

Teresa wants to say something, but Gilles interrupts her.

GILLES

Many thanks, Christine, but I don't think it's necessary.

INT. CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY - DAY

Christine, Gilles and Teresa walk along a second floor gallery. On one side of it, through the glass wall, they see a small ground control centre with a HANDFUL OF PEOPLE working in front of the monitors.

On the big screen there is a map of the world with a sinusoid of orbit and a small dot moving along it. The information on the side of the board reads: INTERBALL AURORA 1 24293U 96050C   05323.52727622 -.00000051  00000-0  10000-3 0  1607 2 24293 063.9876 353.1773 5094017 295.9791 020.7840 04.14715663139751

Christine stops and points down.

CHRISTINE

Interball Aurora maintenance session. In 1996, Canada placed a highly specialized camera, the auroral ultra-violet imager, aboard the Russian satellite Interball Aurora to study the aurora borealis. UVAI's mission was to take photos of the Arctic region to improve our understanding of space weather and the aurora borealis. Space storms cause various problems. For example, in 1994, a violent magnetic storm put Canada's Anik satellites out of commission for several days, cutting off information transmission to Canada's print and electronic media...

While Christine is talking, Teresa turns around.

TWO MEN IN SUITS stand a few meters away, talking quietly. One of the men is looking straight at Teresa. When he meets Teresa's eyes, he turns away.

INT. CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY - DAY

Christine leads Teresa and Gilles to the exit.

They pass by the wall displaying THE OFFICIAL PICTURES OF CANADIAN ASTRONAUTS. Teresa looks at their smiling, confident, positive faces.

A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE walks up the stairs passing Christine, Teresa and Gilles. Teresa hears a CONVERSATION IN RUSSIAN and turns around to follow the group with her eyes. She notices the same two men whom she has seen on the gallery, lingering on the top landing.

TERESA

Who are these people?

Christine looks around. The group screens the two men from Teresa, and when the group passes, the men are no longer there.

CHRISTINE

It's a Russian delegation helping with Interball Aurora. Almost all our projects are based on international cooperation...

She stops just before the guards and smiles.

CHRISTINE (CONT'D)

It was nice to meet you. Have a safe journey home...

(to Gilles)

It was nice to see you again. Stay in touch, will you?

She stretches her hand out to Teresa, then exchange a kiss with Gilles.

EXT. CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY  - AFTERNOON

A slow snowfall in the darkening air. The street lights are now on.

A big uneven SNOWFLAKE lands on Teresa's sleeve. Teresa looks at it till it melts, disappearing into a drop of water.

Gilles sweeps the snow off the car windows.

GILLES

Should we set off? My wife is back tomorrow morning...

Another black car appears by the entrance to the Space Agency and is waiting there, the engine idling and a small bluish smoke coming form the exhaust pipe.

TERESA

I would like to speak with the President of the Agency.

GILLES

I don't think it's a good idea.

TERESA

No problem.

Gilles looks at her.

GILLES

If you want to go back on your own, I'll wait here...

Teresa abruptly turns and walks back to the Agency.

ext. CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY

The black car is still waiting by the doors.

One of the guards, A YOUNG BLACK MAN IN A UNIFORM, walks in front of the building, waving his arms to warm the hands.

There are illuminated windows on the upper floors, but the entrance is dark, and the doors look shut.

Teresa walks straight to the door, but the guard stops her.

GUARD

Can I help you?

TERESA

I have been here just now, remember? I need to speak to your press officer, Christine.

GUARD

I am sorry I can't let you in.

TERESA

Why? I've just been in... I have my passport. I really need to see her.

GUARD

Sorry, madam. We are now closed for public.

TERESA

Can I use your phone to call her?...

GUARD

I am sorry I can't help you. You would need to contact her tomorrow.

The guard turns away.

Teresa looks up at the illuminated windows WITH SHADOWS OF PEOPLE moving inside. She moves a few steps away from the entrance and stops, thinking.

A SMALL MAN IN PARKA WITH A BRIEFCASE (NICOLAI) comes out of the building. The guard holds the door for him, lets him out and steps inside the building himself.

The small man's mobile phone RINGS. Nicolai takes it out.

NICOLAI

(in Russian)

Yes... I've just left... I understand. Agreed... I am going to have something to eat and will come back. Bye.

He puts the phone away. Teresa looks around. The black car is idling but the driver seems to be dozing at the stirring wheel. Teresa quickly approaches the small man.

TERESA

Excuse me... Are you Russian?

Nicolai turns to her and looks with curiosity.

NICOLAI

Yes.

TERESA

Do you have anything to do with space?

The man lightly smiles.

NICOLAI

Yes. I am a cosmonaut.

TERESA

(in Russian)

It's good, because I want to ask you... about the Space Station... Is anyone still there?

Nicolai looks at her with attention.

NICOLAI

(in Russian)

The Station is unmanned in preparation for de-orbiting.

TERESA

(in Russian)

And if someone was there, and the Station was de-orbited, would this someone have any chance of surviving?

A MAN appears from the building. Nicolai watches him approaching.

NICOLAI

(quickly, in Russian)

No. He wouldn't.

(in a different tone, in English)

Nice talking to you and best of luck with your projects.

MAN

We are ready to go.

Nicolai nods. The DRIVER comes out of the black car, opens the door. Nicolai and the man get in. The car drives away.

INT. EVENING, MONTREAL, TV STATION

Gilles and Teresa are sitting in the office of the NEWS EDITOR, RAY, a red-haired man with feckless.

Ray is in front of the computer screen and during the conversation doesn't stop typing and checking something on the computer. It's not clear if he is writing notes related to the conversation, or doing something else in parallel with it.

RAY

The European Champions League semi-final, I've got you.

(to Gilles)

You've seen the tape, haven't you?

GILLES

Yes I have.

RAY

Curious. Let's check something...

He types on the computer, waits a second, reads information on the screen and reaches for the phone.

RAY (CONT'D)

(on the phone)

Hello... Can I speak to Christine Lafleur please, it's Ray Conrad from the News Today... Thanks...

He winks to Teresa and Gilles and puts the phone on the loudspeakers.

CHRISTINE (O.S.)

Christine Lafleur, press relations...

RAY

(on the phone)

Christine it's Ray Conrad. I have a quick question. A woman came this afternoon claiming there was someone on the Russian Space Station. She said she had a tape but you had taken it from her?...

CHRISTINE (O.S.)

A German one? Oh she is completely mad. Try to rid of her in a polite way, if you have not already done so.

RAY

(on the phone)

Thanks for the warning, I thought she was a bit mad.

Teresa gets up, grabs her coat and the backpack and walks out of the office.

Ray makes gestures to Gilles to stop her. Gilles rushes after Teresa, catching her at the door. Teresa is abut to say something but Gilles presses his finger to the lips and points back to the chair.

RAY (CONT.) (CONT'D)

(on the phone)

By the way, what's on the tape?

CHRISTINE (O.S.)

A year-old Russian telecommunication recorded from NASA channel.

RAY

(on the phone)

I see. Well I appreciate your help... By the way I am sending Henri to the Interball press-conference. I thought you'd enjoy it!

CHRISTINE (O.S.)

I sure will!

Ray hangs up and turns to Teresa, who has not taken her coat off but is sitting back on the chair.

RAY

(to Teresa)

I am sorry, but you shouldn't be so sensitive. You are saying you see transmissions every night? I'll send a crew to you tomorrow, how about that?

EXT. GILLES' CAR/ ROAD TO RIMOUSKI - NIGHT

The car is parked on the side of the road. Gilles is out. Teresa switches on the light, unfolds a piece of paper. It's the Space Station transit chart. She checks her watch and gets out of the car.

An empty road is seen faintly between the white fields and a thin forest of small Northern trees. One can just make Gilles' figure in the forest a few feet away from the car. A SOFT SOUND OF PEEING.

A car appears on the road, its headlights blinding Teresa. The car slows down and stops beside Gilles' car.

There are two people inside - a MAN and a WOMAN. The WOMAN (who is sitting in the passenger seat) puts down her window.

WOMAN

(to Teresa, in English)

Are you alright? Need any help?

TERESA

No thanks. Just a toilet break.

The woman nods. The man, without switching off the engine, gets out of the car, a scraper and a big brush in hand. He starts cleaning the headlights.

WOMAN

How far are you travelling?

TERESA

Rimouski.

WOMAN

A long way... We are going to Riviere-du-Loup to see my father. He's been taken ill this afternoon... eighty years old...

The man returns to the car.

WOMAN (CONT'D)

Well good luck and a safe journey.

She puts up the window. The car drives away.

Teresa looks up. A deep black sky is pierced with stars.

A SATELLITE looking like a very bright star appears on the horizon. It moves swiftly across the sky, right on the zenith.

HEAVY STEPS and the SOUND OF CRUNCHING BRANCHES are heard, and Gilles comes out on the road. He stops near Teresa.

TERESA

(without taking her eyes off the sky)

Look. It's the Space Station.

GILLES

Gosh, it's beautiful...

He looks up, silenced. Teresa holds her breath.

The station crosses the sky and disappears behind the forest.

GILLES (CONT'D)

How far is it?

TERESA

Used to be four hundred, but it's three hundred seventy kilometres now.

GILLES

Not so far. About the same as from here to Rimouski...

INT. gILLES' CAR - NIGHT

Gilles turns the engine on. Something in how the car starts moving attracts his attention. He stops and gets out.

EXT. gILLES' CAR/ ROAD TO RIMOUSKI - NIGHT

Gilles crouches in front, looking at the front wheels. The car is visibly leaning to one side. Gilles studies the tires.

The light from the flashlight illuminates the front and the back tires on the driver side. Both are flat, with several big metal nails sticking out of them. Gilles pulls one of the nails out, incredulous.

GILLES

Damn it! What's that?!

Teresa touches his shoulder.

TERESA

I might be mistaken... A car stopped asking if we needed any help. The woman chatted to me while the man was outside. I did not see what he was doing.

Gilles looks at her, very serious.

GILLES

It doesn't happen in Canada. Get inside the car, we are staying here for a while.

Teresa gets inside. Gilles reaches for his mobile and dials.

GILLES (CONT'D)

(on the phone)

I need urgent road service... A Plus member... Two flat tires... About 80 kilometres East of Drummondville on highway 20... I don't want towing I want a flat tire assistance and an emergency spare purchase... Up to three hours?!...

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, STREET - DAY

A police car is parked by Nicole's house.

Teresa walks up the stairs, carrying the backpack and thermos. The door is unlocked and ajar.  Teresa looks at it with concern and turns around.

Across the street Gilles is lingering by the mailbox, a newspaper and letters in hands, waiting.

Teresa enters.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, CORRIDOR/TERESA'S ROOM - DAY

VOICES OF NICOLE and TWO POLICEMEN are coming from the kitchen. The door to Teresa's room is wide open.

Nicole appears from the kitchen.

NICOLE

It's good you are back.

TERESA

What happened?

NICOLE

A bit of excitement. Someone broke into the house last night. Climbed in through your window! Saga heard something and screamed. I woke up.

TERESA

Is Saga alright?

NICOLE

Yes she thinks it was Peter, a homeless guy from the neighbourhood, who wanted a bit of food... Drug addicts most likely. Sorry it normally doesn't happen in Rimouski... Was your trip good? Saved your cosmonaut?

Teresa shakes her head.

She steps inside her room, which is ransacked, with the windowpanes propped open. Gaston's decoder is lying on the floor, smashed in pieces. Teresa picks up what's left of the decoder.

TERESA

Do you know how to find Gaston?

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, STREET - AFTERNOON

A TELEVISION CREW - A CAMERAMAN and A REPORTER  - are taking boxes from a taxi to Nicole's door.

Teresa is watching them from the landing, holding open the door.

CAMERAMAN

(going up and down the stairs and talking to Teresa)

We had an accident just before Riviere-du-Loup, some idiot on a tractor, so while waiting for the car to be toed away we called Ray and he said jump in the taxi, bastards. We'll do your interview first. How much time do we have till the transmission?

TERESA

A couple of hours.

Nicole and Saga walk to the house. Nicole has a grocery bag in her hand.

Saga runs up the stairs, Nicole follows her.

Teresa looks at Nicole with a silent question.

NICOLE

He was not at the office. But they sold me a new one from his safe.

Nicole shows her the contents of the grocery bag. A BOX WITH A NEW DECODER is lying there on top of the apples.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - EVENING

Nicole's big older television and a VCR and a new decoder are installed on the floor in Teresa's room. The room has been tided, and the window closed.

The television is on. Teresa turns up the volume and flips channels back and forward, briefly passing by Arab news and a neighbourhood supermarket's CCTV images. Satisfied, she gets up.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE - EVENING

The cameraman roams around the apartment, filming.

He looks with curiosity at the unpacked boxes of Nicole's sex toys and accidentally pushes Gilles' bicycle, which falls down with great noise.

Nicole glances from the kitchen.

CAMERAMAN

Sorry.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa puts a new VHS tape in the VCR and presses 'record'. The television screen remains dark. Teresa watches the screen with extreme intensity.

The reporter, the cameraman and Nicole are waiting in front of the television.

A signal appears, ripping the blackness of the screen with horizontal uneven lines.

Everyone moves closer to the screen.

The noise signal increases, the horizontal lines run faster, followed by almost unbearable CRACKLING PULSATING NOISE.

Concerned, Teresa gently turns the tuning knob. The signal disappears, giving space to the Arab television. Teresa turns the knob back, to the crackling image.

The cameraman aims the camera at Teresa, pans to the television screen and back to Teresa.

TERESA

It should be here.

Teresa flips channels once more, turns down the volume, watching the white lines on the screen.

TERESA (CONT'D)

It'll clear up, we must wait a bit longer...

White lines on television screen. More lines. More CRACKLING SOUND. Then everything disappears, the screen is black and silent again.

REPORTER

Is that it?

Teresa anxiously watches the screen. The reporter gets up.

REPORTER (CONT'D)

Don't worry, it's just this kind of a day! We'll have dinner and will be in the hotel, call us if something happens.

He pats Teresa on the shoulder and walks out of the room. The cameraman collapses the tripod and follows the reporter.

Nicole remains in the room with the distraught Teresa.

NICOLE

You might not have adjusted it properly. Keep an eye on Saga, I'll see if I can find Gaston.

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, STREET/ GILLES' CAR - NIGHT

Nicole carries Gilles' bike down the stairs.

She gets on the bike and rides away in the middle of the street, finding a path between brown squashed snow. Her unbuttoned coat flies behind her shoulders.

A WHITE VAN parked a bit further along the road turns its engine on and slowly follows Nicole at distance. Nicole doesn't notice it.

Gilles' car appears on the road. Nicole slows down and steps to the side to let it pass. Gilles looks at her. Nicole turns away.

WIFE

Someone's on a bike, as mad as you!

Gilles' car stops by his house. Gilles and his wife get out.

The white van drives by, continuing after Nicole. Gilles looks at the van. Nicole stops at the crossroad, the van stops few yards away. Nicole moves forward, the van creeps behind.

WIFE (O.S.) (CONT'D)

You did not put the recycling out, darling!...

Gilles takes a quick decision.

GILLES

Well I'll take it now!

He throws the blue box inside the car. The wife turns around from the door.

WIFE

Get Chinese take-away as well, will you?

She disappears inside the house.

Gilles jumps back in the car, turns around and follows the van.

EXT. STREET, CROSS-ROAD - NIGHT

Nicole rides along a commercial street. She stops the bike on the red light, and rocks it impatiently from side to side waiting.

There are a few cars between Nicole and the white van, which is followed by Gilles. Gilles swerves to the left, overtakes the van and other cars, gestures his need to turn and squeezes in front of the first car by the lights, right by Nicole.

Nicole looks at him with surprise. Gilles leans across to the passenger's side.

GILLES

(urgently)

Park the bike by the Arcade, run across, I'll pick you up at the other exit.

The light changes. Gilles turns right in front of Nicole. Nicole continues along the street, the white van following behind.

EXT/INT. STREET, ARCADE SHOPPING MALL/ GILLES' CAR - NIGHT

Nicole comes out of the mall, looks around.

Gilles flashes the headlights. Nicole runs to the car and gets inside.

Gilles turns the car around and drives away.

NICOLE

What's it all about?

GILLES

Where were you going on a bike?

NICOLE

Looking for Gaston, the guy who installed Teresa's dish. What's wrong?

GILLES

I think you were followed.

NICOLE

Followed?!

Gilles mobile phone rings. Gilles answers.

GILLES

(on the phone)

Yes I called but you didn't answer. I've ordered food, it should be there in ten minutes. I'll be back later, I have an urgent thing to attend... Helping someone in an emergency, I'll tell you when I get home... No I'm fine, don't worry.

He hangs up and turns back to Nicole.

GILLES (CONT'D)

What does he look like?

NICOLE

Who?!

GILLES

Gaston!

NICOLE

I can't be in the same car with you, Gilles!

GILLES

We'll think about it later.

Nicole shakes her head and turns away.

NICOLE

An Innu. About forty years old. Big. Goes everywhere in a van with the satellite television logo. You've seen him around...

Gilles nods.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa is restlessly pacing her room. The television screen is dark, with an occasional cracking white line passing through the screen. The light on the VCR is flashing indicating the recording in progress.

Outside the window, snowfall has started. Big soft snowflakes dance in the air, landing on the glass like fragile butterflies.

Teresa stops the recording and rewinds the tape. She gets the tape out, then changes her mind and pushes it back in the machine.

The screen is filled with white lines. Teresa fast-forwards the tape, scanning the recording. The white lines run faster, revealing a distorted outline of a person.

Teresa exclaims and moves closer to the screen. She rewinds and fast-forwards the tape again, watching the outlines of a MAN.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, KITCHEN - NIGHT

Teresa is pouring water into a cup with a tea bag. A knock on the kitchen window makes her jump. She turns off the light and carefully moves the curtain.

Nicole, Gaston and Gilles are standing on the balcony. Teresa pulls away paper insulation and opens the door.

TERESA

You scared me.

GILLES

There is a car parked by the house with its headlights off, so I decided to take a precaution. I think I've caught your socialist paranoia!

They enter, letting a cloud of cold air and snow into the kitchen. Gaston's clothes are in a mess, and he sports a bruise and blood on his face.

Teresa looks at him with concern. She is about to ask something, but Nicole puts a finger to her lips and shakes her head, stopping her.

Gilles closes the door and pulls back the curtains.

GILLES (CONT'D)

Nicole I suggest we call the police and tell them that you've been stalked.

Gaston takes off his boots and walks straight to Teresa's room.

TERESA

(to Gaston, gently)

Could I offer you something? A tea?

Gaston turns to her.

GASTON

First make me something to eat. Then bring me coffee.

He disappears in the room.

NICOLE

(softly)

He was on the roof this afternoon doing an installation, and someone, teenagers most likely, got into his van. He run after them, hung to the cabin and tried to get the bastards out, but they sped up, and he fell on the ground.

TERESA

Is he alright?

NICOLE

Very upset. Everyone knows him here. Things like that don't normally happen.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, KITCHEN - NIGHT

A POLICEMAN 1, a young man, almost a boy, with freckles and very short hear, is sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee.

The POLICEMAN 2 is talking in the walkie-talkie, an empty plate on the table in front of him.

POLICEMAN 2

(on the walkie-talkie)

The name's Jamie Steward, travelling on American passport...

VOICE ON THE WALKIE-TALKIE

(incomprehensible)

ShPssHrmm Thm Crm ShPss Hrmm

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Teresa and Nicole enter the room with a big dish of hot pasta, a plate, a knife and a fork. Gilles follows them with a jar of coffee.

All papers on Teresa's desk are moved to the side. A soldering iron in hand, Gaston is leaning over the decoder box, all in bits and pieces.

The voice of the policeman is heard from the corridor.

POLICEMAN 2 (O.S.)

(on the walkie-talkie)

Any information on the white van?...

VOICE ON THE WALKIE-TALKIE (O.S.)

(incomprehensible)

ShPssHrmm Thm Crm ShPss Hrmm

POLICEMAN 2 (O.S.)

(on the walkie-talkie)

Well it's the same girl who had a house breakdown last night. She has a small child.

VOICE ON THE WALKIE-TALKIE (O.S.)

(incomprehensible)

ShPssHrmm Thm Crm ShPss Hrmm

POLICEMAN 2 (O.S.)

(on the walkie-talkie)

We'll stay in the area...

Gaston looks up, puts the solder on a support, wipes his hands with a rag and moves aside the parts to make space for the plate.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - night

Teresa and Nicole are motionless on the settee, watching Gaston with mounting intensity.

Gilles walks in the room, with the mobile phone in hand.

GILLES

Ray said he was ordered to get the crew back to Montreal and to forget the story. He is willing to risk but he needs a recording. He can't run anything without it. It has to be in Montreal by seven in the morning.

Teresa nods.

Gaston finishes re-assembling the decoder, which has now lost its sides but received a new front plate with several switches and knobs saying 'descramble 1-2-1', 'descramble Y-C-L', 'descramble 50Hz'...

The policemen step into the room.

POLICEMAN 2

We'll go now but we'll be in the area. Let us know if you see any more of those American bastards.

Policeman 1 looks at Gaston and disassembled decoder with an open interest.

POLICEMAN 1

(to Gaston)

What are you doing?

GASTON

(without taking his eyes away from the desk)

Adjusting the decoder to de-scramble transmissions from the Russian Space Station.

POLICEMAN 1

Cool! What ciphers are you using?

The second policeman smiles.

POLICEMAN 2

Don't let him start on this! He's crazy about electronics!

He gives the first policeman a friendly shove on the shoulder.

EXT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, ROOF - NIGHT

Gaston and Gilles are on the roof of the house. Clutching the chimney, Gilles holds a flashlight directing the light towards Gaston. Gaston attaches an additional antenna to the centre of the satellite dish.

A police car slowly moves along the street. It stops by the house.

Gilles looks down.

The car window lowers and Policeman 1 waves to Gaston and Gilles. Gilles waves back.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Gaston is asleep on Teresa's settee, curled up like a child, with a hand under his cheek. Teresa's blanket is tucked around him.

Teresa, Nicole and Gilles are watching the television screen.

The screen fills with white stripes and noise.

Anxious, Teresa presses the 'descramble' switch to 'on'.

The stripes disappear. The image of Ivan, though slightly blurred and distorted, appears on the screen.

Teresa exclaims with relief. She moves closer to the television.

INT. RUSSIAN SPACE STAION - DAY

 

DURING THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE WE HEAR TERESA'S VOICE AS SHE TRANSLATES IT FOR NICOLE AND GILLES.

Ivan is by the control panel working as he talks, without turning to camera.

IVAN

I tried to correct the orbit using attitude control thrusters firing short burns.

OPERATOR 1(O.S.)

You lost fifteen hundred meters.

IVAN

I think I am about thirty-forty degrees off now. I won't have enough time to re-orientate.

OPERATOR 2 (O.S.)

We know. We have an instruction to start preparations for immediate emergency re-entry.

Ivan stops what he has been doing, turns around and floats closer to he camera.

IVAN

So where will be my... landing patch?

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

We have NASA recommendation for 53 North - 54 West. We'll wait till you've lost another kilometre, in eight orbits or so, then we'll start slowing down, for about thirty minutes...

OPERATOR 2 (O.S.)

We'll pass you over to the Americans, since it's their territory. They'll take you from the beginning of slowing down.  Your operator will be Fred Bayron, remember him?

IVAN

Fred? No I don't remember any Fred.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

We'll be watching you but won't be communicating any more.

IVAN

Yes I've got it.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

So, Vanya...

IVAN

It's time to say good-bye?

He makes a movement as if getting up from the chair, stopping himself by lightly touching the cable.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

Yes.

IVAN

I wonder if the Other World is as beautiful as what I see here. I'll check it out for you guys.

OPERATOR 1 (O.S.)

Yes...

The voice chokes and disappears.

IVAN

Take it easy. Everything will be fine. Most important, the job will be done. I feel fine and in positive working spirits.

Ivan smiles.

OPERATOR 2 (O.S.)

Farewell, Vanya.

The image disappears.

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE, TERESA'S ROOM - NIGHT

For a moment everyone is silent, Teresa biting her lips, Nicole in tears.

GILLES

Eight orbits is about twelve hours... So the scheduled time of re-entry is eleven in the morning... We might be already too late.

Gilles takes the tape out of the recorder. He carefully lifts the curtain and surveys the street outside, then draws the curtain.

GILLES (CONT'D)

Well I should stop by my house and set off for Montreal.

He kisses Teresa good-bye, then looks at Nicole.

GILLES (CONT'D)

Keep all the lights up. Lock the doors. Have the phone with you all the time... I...

He is about to say something else, but stops himself. Instead he touches her cheek with his hand, turns around and leaves the room.

The SOUND of the CLOSING FRONT DOOR and STEPS down the stairs.

NICOLE

What are we going to do, Teresa?!

Teresa looks away, silent. Then she turns to Nicole, her face wet with tears, but defiant.

TERESA

Fifty three North, fifty four West - is it somewhere off Labrador?

She looks at Gaston and gently taps his shoulder.

TERESA (CONT'D)

Gaston!

Gaston opens his eyes and sits up.

TERESA (CONT'D)

You were in the Air Force, can you fly an aeroplane? If we can find a small private plane...

Gaston looks at her, baffled.

TERESA (CONT'D)

(with determination)

I need to be in East Labrador tomorrow morning.

Gaston thinks for a moment.

GASTON

I can't. I didn't pass the medical. I was always on the ground. But I have a friend. He owes me. I can ask him.

EXT. RESIDENTIAL STREET - NIGHT

Teresa is waiting on the street, while Gaston is talking to AN OLDER MAN (PILOT) on the porch of a small house with a manicured yard. The man is dressed in trousers with braces, and has sleepers on his feet.

The house has a satellite dish on the roof.

AN OLDER WOMAN glances outside from the illuminated window of the house. The window reveals a living room with a big television showing news.

Teresa shifts from one foot to another.

The man disappears in the house.

Teresa sees him talking to the woman in the living room.

The man reappears on the doorsteps, now wearing a pilot's leather flying jacket, boots and gloves. He has a selection of badges on the jacket.

He opens the garage door revealing a car and drives it out.

Teresa looks at the car with astonishment. The body of the car is completely covered with McDonald's 'free-gift' plastic toys. Some are weathered, some have more colour and shine to them.

The woman appears on the threshold with a thermos and sandwiches.

Gaston smiles to Teresa. She makes a step and almost falls down, clutching Gaston's sleeve.

TERESA

(helplessly)

I can't walk anymore. I can't feel my feet.

int/ext. SMALL ROAD - NIGHT

The car drives along a deserted road outside the city. The headlights illuminate snowy forest hills on both sides of the road. The car drives slowly, skidding on the bends.

The light in the car is on. Gaston is driving. Teresa half-lying in the back, flanked by the Pilot. She has Gaston's parka on top of her own coat, but is still shivering. Her bare feet are placed on the Pilot's lap. The Pilot gets a handful of whisky out of a small black flask and vigorously massages it into Teresa's feet.

GASTON

(to the Pilot)

Give her the flask!

The Pilot passes the flask to Teresa.

GASTON (CONT'D)

(to Teresa)

Drink!

TERESA

I don't drink.

She meets Gaston's eyes and after a moment's hesitation takes a gulp from the flask. She coughs, takes another gulp and slowly breathes out as the colour returns to her cheeks. She looks at her bare feet, moves her toes and giggles. The Pilot doesn't react, continuing his act.

Gaston nods with satisfaction.

As the car turns around a bend, a police car parked by the side of the road turns its front lights, blinding Gaston.

A POLICEMAN contemplates Pilot's car. He smiles and salutes it.

EXT. AIRFIELD, ENTRANCE - NIGHT

The car slows down in front of an electric gate. The sign on the gate says: 'Listuguj Reserve Airfield, unauthorised entrance is forbidden'.

The pilot gets out of the car, unlocks a security lock and opens the gate.

The car drives along an airfield to the looming silhouette of hangar. Two small planes are standing besides it.

EXT. AIRFIELD, HANGAR - NIGHT

Teresa is waiting by the car. She has Gaston's parka on top of her coat and wears male-size snow-boots instead of her high-heels.

The Pilot appears from inside the hangar. He holds helmets, an orange parka and a wind-up radio.

TERESA

(feverish)

Do you have a First Aid kit?... And a stretcher, I think we might need a stretcher...

INT/EXT. PLANE  - MORNING

The Pilot and Gaston are in the plane's cockpit, silent. Teresa is on the seat behind them. A hand-held Global Positioning Device is taped above the control panel, swinging as the plane turns.

The plane is flying along a frozen riverbed...

EXT/INT. GILLES'CAR - MORNING

Gilles is driving along a wintry road. He looks tired, but defiant. The tape is lying on the passenger's seat.

EXT. PLANE  - MORNING

The plane is flying over forests with patches of clear-cuts...

EXT. GILLES'CAR - MORNING

Gilles's car on a highway, overtaking lorries.

EXT. PLANE  - MORNING

The plane passes several houses lost in the middle of nowhere...

EXT/INT. GILLES'CAR - MORNING

Gilles is entering Montreal suburbs.

INT/EXT. PLANE  - MORNING

The plane passes

...a frozen lake...

...a small logging settlement...

...finally, a white endless desert of the frozen Ocean...

The plane dives down, touches the ground on a scarcely marked deserted airfield, taxis and stops in a cloud of snow.

EXT. LABRADOR SEA  - MORNING

Gaston and the Pilot make an improvised stretcher out of two poles and a piece of blue tarpaulin.

Teresa is waiting besides them.

The Pilot spreads out a shiny emergency blanket. He sits down and pours a cup of coffee. He has a drink, then passes it to Gaston. Gaston passes it to Teresa.

The Pilot shares sandwiches. They eat in silence.

INT. MONTREAL, TV STATION, NEWS STUDIO - MORNING

An ANNOUNCER looks through the notes, preparing for the broadcast.

Gilles and Ray watch from behind the camera. The announcer looks up.

A big digital counter-down flashing 5-4-3-2-1-go.

ANNOUNCER

The Russian Space Station, which is scheduled to be de-orbited today under an immense pressure that NASA put on the Russian partners claiming that the Station's exploitation was no longer safe, will be directed to eternity by a hero who was meant to remain unknown. Ivan Nekrassov, a Russian cosmonaut who was officially declared dead earlier this month, is still alive and has remained on board the Station to ensure its safe and controlled descent

EXT. LABRADOR SEA  - MORNING

The group slowly moves towards the Ocean: Teresa, walking in front, then Gaston, with the stretcher on his shoulder and the Global Positioning Device, and the Pilot with the First Aid kit and the wind-up radio...

Morning has fully broken. The sky is clear, bleached by the cold. There is no sign of human presence. Even the sound of steps seems to be muted by the emptiness of the space around...

Teresa stops and waits till the men catch up with her.

TERESA

How far is it?

Gaston looks at the Global Positioning Device.

GASTON

(pointing forward)

About fifty kilometres further this way. We stop here. It's too dangerous to be closer.

Gaston puts the radio on the snow, winds it up, tunes...

There is a silence at first, then the noise, whistles and rattles.

Finally, a distorted breaking VOICE is heard. Gaston flips a switch, the voice focuses.

V.O. IVAN

(in Russian)

...Yesterday I saw a snowstorm over your house...

INT. NICOLE'S HOUSE - TERESA'S ROOM

Nicole and Saga sitting hugging each other in front of the television, watching Ivan on the screen. The image is shaking, and the sound is intermittent.

IVAN (CONT.)

(in Russian)

I caught myself breathing on the pane as if I thought to blow the clouds away... I thought that if I pushed myself far enough, I could catch the orbit, and become your guardian satellite... until one day I'd fall on your doorsteps as myriads of intricate snowflakes... Final burn forty seconds completed... passing Cape Mercy... beginning descent...

EXT. LABRADOR SEA  - MORNING

The voice breaks and disappears in the noise of radio waves.

Teresa, Gaston and the Pilot wait, standing together, stock-still, their eyes watching the sky.

A strange, almost imperceptible HIGH SOUND penetrates the silence of the frozen desert.

A moving star appears far away near the horizon.

Teresa holds her breath.

The star becomes brighter and breaks into five.

As the five fragments move across the sky, leaving behind tender brown tail of smoke, they change their colour from blue to golden.

Finally, they engulf in flames and disintegrate into a shower of burning fragments.

INT. ARCHIVE FOOTAGE: GROUND CONTROL CENTRE, STAR CITY, RUSSIA - DAY

A MALE VOICE makes an ANNOUNCEMENT about the successful re-entry of the Russian Space Station (in Russian, English and French).

The GROUND CONTROL CENTRE STAFF - few MEN in front of computers - rise on their feet, silent.

GUESTS - officials and diplomats - applaud and smile with relief.

A big screen on the wall shows the World map with the trajectory of re-entry.

EXT. LABRADOR SEA  - DAY

(bird's POV)

In the middle of the frozen sea THREE LITTLE FIGURES move slowly.

Around them, as far as the eye can see, BURNED FRAGMENTS OF THE STATION are scattered on the ice, lying in dark patches of melted snow. The three figures move from one fragment to another in their futile search.

It starts to snow, powdering the dark patches with merciful white cover. Myriads of unusual, intricate snowflakes fly, whirl and dance in the air, each looking like a tiny copy of Ivan's crystal.

TERESA (V.O.)

During the so called 'dark period' of the existence of the Universe, about five hundred million years after the 'big bang' space was filled with hydrogenised snow... The snowflakes had intricate, refined shapes, long fragile intertwined branches unseen on Earth. This snow melted when the temperature in the Universe rose with the birth of first stars.

THE END