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CHRYSALIS
[An Anthology Series Pilot of Transformation and Sensualities (scifi/fantasy/horror)]

"Primal"

written by
Neale Sourna

FADE IN

BRIEF OPENING CREDITS/TITLES

ACT I

FADE IN

VAUGHAN No! Don't leave her here, not with me. Especially not today!

INT. COMMON SITTING ROOM AND BEDROOM - MORNING

R&B MUSIC PLAYS LOUDER, as DR. REYNOLDS POWELL'S bedroom door opens wider, and he intermittently pokes his head around the doorjamb, into the common sitting room shared with DR. VIVIAN VAUGHAN.

REYNOLDS I only need 5 ... 10 minutes … 15 tops, to complete the Protocol Pretrial.
VAUGHAN The Purity Assessments Schedule was set weeks ago. Why did you make a ... date, now?
REYNOLDS It's ... it's complicated, Vaughan. And, I knew you'd bust my balls about it; but, Donata will ... not be happy, if I cancel one more time.

She cluelessly stares at him from inside her plain hairdo and buttoned to the last button, man-tailored outfit, which is unsuccessfully obscuring her curvy charms.

REYNOLDS (continues) I would've started earlier; but, I couldn't until your Serum 482 drip was fully distilled and chilled.
VAUGHAN Oh. It's my fault.
REYNOLDS Probably. (laughs) Kidding. I need you to let me do this though. Don't look like that. It's complicated...being human...doing human things. Normal things. V, you hardly ever leave your sunless lab, except when I drag you to required fundraisers or out on my family's outings.

VAUGHAN

Stop trying to change me, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS

Change or die, V. Me, I'm just trying to have a life--.

VAUGHAN

For what, sex with Donata or--?

REYNOLDS

N-NO! Just...just no. Really, it's basic civility. I can't leave her outside.

VAUGHAN

(guilelessly sincere)

Why not?

REYNOLDS

Vaughan, you miss the most obvious things about humans sometimes.

His steady gaze makes her fidget, so she ineffectually attempts moving his heavy armchair. He steps into view and it's plainly a game for him to watch her avoid him on a sexual level, especially while he's half-zipped and with shirt in hand. He easily shoves the chair OUT OF PLACE, then back.

REYNOLDS (continues)

Donata's not my pet dog; she's my fiancée.

VAUGHAN

I know that. It's just all this…sudden change. Scott in a few weeks, then you, both mundanely tripping down that silly bowered aisle.

REYNOLDS

Vaughan, tell me or just show me otherwise, and I won't. I mean it. Don't force me away from you like this, let me through that wall of yours.

CONNIE's soothing, disembodied, Connie Francis-warm voice interrupts.

CONNIE (O.S.)

Dr. Vaughan, your scheduled dose is in two minutes.

Reynolds, matter of factly, takes Vaughan's hands to examine her palms and nails; his desire still apparent, but held in check, while gazing…examining her eyes.

REYNOLDS

Connie?

CONNIE (O.S.)

Yes, Dr. Powell.

REYNOLDS

Schedule me to check V's replacement hormone, prohormone, and thyroxine dosage levels tomorrow. The works.

He reluctantly lets her go and she smoothes her already unmussed hair before leading him towards their in-house labs.

VAUGHAN

Reynolds … please, meet her somewhere else. Really, Donata should know that experimental lab work means extreme attention to details and a dedicated schedule. Translation--no distractions of any….

Making her point, she faces him.

VAUGHAN (continues)

…of...of any kind. Are...are you gonna finish dressing?

Resigned, he slips on his shirt and follows her into...

INT. LAB - SAME

...to Vaughan's DIMLY LIGHTED lab and straight to her CONSOLE COMPUTER, whose OPENING DATA SYSTEMS APPEAR ON HER PERSONAL FLAT SCREEN.

VAUGHAN (continues)

She hates that we both live here.

He removes from a CONTAINER at her SIDE CONSOLE, her morning's medicine DOSAGE, a CUP OF WATER, and routinely hands it all to her.

REYNOLDS

We detest wasting time commuting. Especially with the hours Protocol keeps us on.

VAUGHAN

(swallows)

Which she doesn't really believe. I don't want her here. She'll be a distraction. Interfere with our routine.

REYNOLDS

(to self)

And, oh, how you love routines that keep everyone at a distance.

VAUGHAN

What?

She clearly notices his frown and stiff jaw, disliking his lack of response, and just as clearly not having a clue of what to do about it, except to disregard it.

VAUGHAN (continue)

Connie, start full journaling in three minutes.

CONNIE (O.S.)

Yes, Dr. Vaughan.

A LARGE, FLAT WALL SCREEN comes to life several yards away, as she enters her code on a SILVER TABLE SAFE UNIT, which opens for her to remove a CLEAR GLASS BOTTLE LABELED "Serum 482".

The bottle's stopper has a COMPUTER-CALIBRATED, PREMEASURING DROPPER THAT READS "3.75 cc."

Vaughan passes the separate ENCODED LABELS of bottle and stopper past an INPUT BEAM, then DOUBLE-CLICKS TWICE, KEYING IN BOTH ENTRIES. Contents and measured amount APPEARS in a 3D GRAPHIC on the wall screen.

She glances at her cheerless partner, and playfully teases him.

VAUGHAN

Donata's creepy. Plus that odd scent she wears.

(shuddering)

Ew!

She innocently, charmingly laughs at her own joke and he clearly adores her.

REYNOLDS

V, do you ever listen to yourself?

VAUGHAN

(indignant)

Yes, because, obviously, you don't.

REYNOLDS

I do. I really do, V. But--.

He drops down on bended knee, as her supplicant; evidently panicking her to fear he's about to "pop THE question". He notices, before she realizes he's not.

VAUGHAN

All right, all right. Get up! Fifteen minutes. But, if you're not on time, I'm dragging her out by the scruff and leashing her to the front post.

INT. LAB - LATER, SAME DAY

DONATA (O.S.)

---ex with him?

VAUGHAN

What did you say?

DONATA ASHER looks from her sparkling ENGAGEMENT RING to Vaughan.

DONATA

Have you ever had sex with him?

VAUGHAN

(baffled)

With whom?

DONATA

Rey, of course. You've been joined at the hip since your first project together back at Qualles-Pratt. So, what's he like?

VAUGHAN

Shouldn't you know?

(checks the time)

Ms. Asher, please, shut up. Connie?

Donata is peeved at being dismissed.

CONNIE (O.S.)

Yes, Dr. Vaughan.

VAUGHAN

Show me a recalibration of the last serum sample against baseline purity control Powell 42A. And … do not document anything Ms. Asher speaks of to file today. Not a word.

Donata's beside her.

DONATA

Vivian, you have operating funds for this lab because I've brought the stream of dollars in. Even got hardassed Cass Bernstein interested. Then, at last week's Foundation schmoozefest, you meet him….

(off Vaughan's reaction)

…and, you already don't remember who he is, do you? Even after you were rude to him. Really, Vivian, you can't piss money like he can get down the drain.

VAUGHAN

Retake your seat. Please. Connie, mark all point 015 variant increases and decreases for projected pituitary and thyroid hormone secretions, and projected influence on growth, metabolism, and maturation of the model. Rate probability errors--.

DONATA

Why is it that every time I get Rey away from here...from you for five measly minutes…? If you need Rey for any trivial…. What do you two do when I'm not here?

Her back to Donata, Vaughan silently reacts and takes a long, angry sip of her HOT TEA then replaces it on its WARMER.

VAUGHAN

We certainly have never had sex. Now, can I have permanent silence?

She reopens the safe unit, her full attention returning to the Serum. Vaughan passes the encoded labels of the bottle and stopper past the input beam, and double-clicks twice, ENTERING "Contents: Serum 482, Measurement: 3.75 cc", which appears on both screens and the bottle, which she replaces in the silver box--.

DONATA

Maybe you don't, literally, define it as sex.

VAUGHAN

Ms. Asher, will you--!

CONNIE (O.S.)

Dr. Vaughan.

VAUGHAN

Yes!

CONNIE (O.S.)

Professor Gabriel urgently wishes to speak with you.

VAUGHAN

Tell Levi I'm in Protocol, that I'll call him back.

CONNIE (O.S.)

I did, per your standing orders. He says he "must speak" to you, "now".

VAUGHAN

Wonderful. Chatty lab guests. And, now…. All right, put him through.

INT. LAB, ANGLE - SAME

She takes a moment to compose herself before picking up.

VAUGHAN (continues)

Levi, how--?

(laughs)

Well, it is your wife's family and you know how Egyptians can--? Excuse me. Ooh, you're not cutting my funds, only "clipping" ... Reynolds' funds?!

She tensely paces…prowling about her lab.

VAUGHAN (continues)

But, we're so close. You can't stonewall him, now! "Don't worry, it's not going to affect" me? I can't survive without him, I'm--.

Vaughan's forgotten her guest, until colliding with the tiresome woman, who's moved from her assigned spot. Donata smiles sweetly.

DONATA

Why don't I just go wait in the sitting room.

Vaughan impatiently waves "whatever", as she continues her call.

INT. SAME - MINUTES LATER

Reynolds rushes in, pulling himself together for his date. Vaughan's finishing her tea, staring at it absently.

REYNOLDS

Sorry, V, but I--. You all right? You look…odd.

VAUGHAN

Yeck. Queer…aftertaste. Your Donata didn't like my company. Sitting room, I think.

He leaves, as she closes the silver box without reexamining the bottle inside. It states "1.89 cc"; but, the small screen and Connie's wall screen read "3.75 cc".

INT. DONATA'S CONDO - LATER, SAME DAY

Dr. Powell and fiancée stumble in, locked in an intense, long kiss, which includes an extended gropefest, until he breaks far out of her frustrated arms' reach.

REYNOLDS

I trust you're behaving with Cass staying over.

(beat)

If I ever need an eyewitness account, I suppose I can get a blow by blow report from that peeping tom neighbor of yours.

DONATA

You can trust me, as much as I trust you with Vulva, uh, Vivian.

REYNOLDS

I'm engaged to you, not her. How about credit for that?

His WATCHLIKE PAGER goes off. He silences the alarm but doesn't look at it.

DONATA

That's her now. It's always her. When you asked me to marry you, Rey, I thought you'd stop stalling out, after a few heated kisses. But, no, you've gotten worse. You get me all revved, then…leave me for her.

(halts his interruption)

Don't dare say that you don't. Or, give me more "duty calls" speeches about your little project for the big, noble, Swedish science fair. I've been very patient; but, I'm tired of waiting to know: when we'll marry, and where we'll live once we are. And, although, I like the idea of her listening to our daily and nightly conjugal bliss, I don't want Vivian in our house.

REYNOLDS

We'll stay wherever you want.

He heads for the door.

DONATA

Still leaving? Come on, do to me what I know you do to her in your mind.

He freezes, rooted in place; giving her another chance at him.

DONATA (continues)

Think ... logically. You want kids, which requires her in your bed; but, she's always in the lab. And, no matter how much you feel she truly loves you, not even you will ever get her to drop that thick, defensive wall of stone around her. Not ever.

He solemnly, mechanically slips the pager into his pocket, slips out of his jacket, and into her eager arms.

EXT. WINDOW, DONATA'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER

NUDE SILHOUETTES waver and play on Donata's bedroom windowshades as...

INT. NEIGHBOR'S WINDOWVIEW - SAME

...from across the street, "NEIGHBOR" sits in deep shadow, watching. They disappear and he waits, until grudgingly falling asleep.

INT. DONATA'S BEDROOM - LATER, SAME NIGHT

Donata lies asleep across her disheveled bed, while Reynolds stands in flickering candlelight staring into his mirrored reflection, before swiftly redressing, until her movement causes the FIERY GLEAM of her ring catches his attention.

His face is unreadable, kneeling beside her, contemplating her contented face, as he gently slides his hand around hers. A moment later, he leaves.

INT. SITTING ROOM - LATER, SAME NIGHT

Through the dark, Reynolds heads straight to his bedroom, until noticing Vaughan's empty room. He shakes his head and heads towards her lab.

INT. LAB - MOMENTS LATER

REYNOLDS

V, you promised me, no more super late hours. You know it's bad for your health--? VAUGHAN!

She's sprawled facedown on the floor, as Reynolds rolls her over out of a POOL OF TEA VOMIT, giving her a cursory exam.

REYNOLDS

Connie, were you recording when Vaughan passed out?!

CONNIE (O.S.)

Yes, Dr. Powell.

REYNOLDS

Show me!

Vaughan's shaken, ashen image comes immediately to the wall screen-where she's surprised to stumble into a table, leans against it for support, then abruptly pukes where she stands, looking frightened to death. And in great pain.

VIDEO VAUGHAN

"Con ... med emergency…. P-Page...R-Rey-nold..."

Something shiny falls unnoticed from his pocket as Reynolds hesitantly takes the pager out. It BRIGHTLY FLASHES, LIGHTING his face with "URGENT, V!" He flings it away.

VIDEO CONNIE (O.S.)

"Dr. Powell is not answer--."

VIDEO VAUGHAN

"I hear bees--?"

Onscreen she collapses.

VIDEO CONNIE (O.S.)

"Dr. Vaughan? Dr. Vaughan?"

REYNOLDS

Stop playback! Call an ambulance and--!

CONNIE (O.S.)

Dr. Powell, Dr. Vaughan's standing order, in such matters, is "no hospital". This is inviolate.

REYNOLDS

So was "no lab visitors". Make the call!

(beat)

Did she apply, ingest, or inject anything from the moment I left?

CONNIE (O.S.)

No, Dr. Powell and I am to specifically remind you--no hospital.

REYNOLDS

OVERRIDE THAT COMMAND, CONNIE!!

VIDEO VAUGHAN (O.S.)

"Reynolds, I know you're probably scared."

He's startled at Vaughan's calm, disembodied, PRERECORDED MESSAGE.

VIDEO VAUGHAN

"You've tried to override my hospital order. You know why I won't agree to that. I have the legal right to refuse ... such ... treatment, again. Too many egos, with too little sleep, and far too many deadly mistakes. I have total confidence in you and your incomparable abilities. Just forgive me this one..."

(smiles slightly)

"...this one high-pressured idiosyncrasy."

REYNOLDS

Jesus, Vaughan. How am I--?

He scoops up his unconscious partner.

REYNOLDS (continues)

Connie, get Vaughan's med records up on her bedroom computer and--.

CONNIE (O.S.)

That station is down. Dr. Vaughan stripped it to replace parts backordered for--.

REYNOLDS

My lab. Send her records to my room then.

He never sees Donata's shiny ring, lying in tea vomit.

INT. REYNOLDS' BEDROOM - LATER, SAME NIGHT

Reynolds adjusts his READING GLASSES, before his computer screen.

REYNOLDS

Connie, what the hell is this?!

Vaughan lies in his four-poster bed, stripped to her undershirt of her soiled shirt. She doesn't look fully unconscious anymore, with her face and body tensing, the movement of her fingertips involuntarily clawing at his sheets.

CONNIE (O.S.)

These are the blood screen results you requested.

REYNOLDS

Did you use the sample I just drew?

CONNIE (O.S.)

Yes.

REYNOLDS

But, it's … it's ... deconstructing her....

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