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213 The Mikado

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213 The Mikado

[MLM-213 (5C13)]

Written by Michael Perry

Directed by Roderick Perry

Edited by Chris Willingham A.C.E.

U.S. Air Date: 6 February 1998

[Transcribed by Libby]

[Computer monitor, showing a search program]

ANTHONY: Try "naked girls".

[somebody types the phrase "naked girls" into the search box and hits Enter. The computer beeps twice. We see Brandon and Anthony, young teens, at the computer. The room they are in appears to be a playroom or family room – there is a table-tennis table behind them. The computer search shows "473 URLs found" and lists the first five.]

BRANDON: All right! We've got four hundred and seventy three matches.

ANTHONY: You know, if we spent just five minutes in each site, that would make, like ...

BRANDON: Thirty nine hours of porn on the internet.

[They laugh and slap hands.]

BRANDON: And that is why Bill Gates should be President.

[Anthony points to the screen.]

ANTHONY: There, that one, "100% Free Nasty Hardcore Coed Teenage Virgins".

[brandon clicks on the link. The screen changes and shows warning signs: "This is an ADULTS ONLY SITE." "STOP! Exit Now If You Are NOT Of Legal Age"]

BRANDON: [quoting from the website's disclaimer] "I understand I will be exposed to visual images, verbal descriptions, and audio sounds of a sexually oriented, erotic nature. Under penalty of perjury I affirm that as of this moment, I am an adult, at least 21 years of age."

[The two look at each other, then with glee Brandon clicks on the "Enter" box. The next web page requires registration using a credit card. It also gives the cost.]

ANTHONY: Nine ninety-five! That's false advertising, it says 100% free.

BRANDON: Yeah. And we said we were over 21. It's OK. One down, four hundred and seventy-two to go.

[As Brandon clicks the mouse button again, they hear the sound of a car door closing. Brandon quickly taps the keyboard, hits escape, and the pair adopt innocent poses. The door to the outside opens and, behind them, a third youth enters.]

DANNY: Don't start without me.

BRANDON: Man, you almost gave me a heart attack! I thought you were my Mom.

[brandon and Anthony get up and start helping themselves to the pizza that Danny has brought.]

ANTHONY: Oh, man, the pizza's cold.

DANNY: I got something that's gonna make up for that. I ran into Leahy at the pizza place. He heard about it while lurking in a chat room for perverts.

ANTHONY: Heard about what?

DANNY: An address, to a very special place.

[The other two youths are very happy about this and the three go over to the computer. Danny sits down and places the paper down on the desk. It has a URL written on it: "". He switches the display back from some text – presumably someone's homework – to the webpage and enters the URL in the search box. A new web page is revealed: "The Mystery Room" showing a woman wearing only underwear, tied to a chair. There is a number – 37122 – on the wall behind her.]


ANTHONY: I don't know. She doesn't look the type.

BRANDON: As if you'd know.

[The webpage refreshes, showing the woman has moved slightly – as much as her bonds will allow. There is a counter on the webpage, it shows 36974 then rolls over to show 37012.]

BRANDON: The higher the number, the less clothes. So what happens at 37122 – full frontal?

[The webpage refreshes again. This time there is a man wearing a hooded gown standing behind the woman.

DANNY: Better. (the computer beeps) Watch.

[The webpage refreshes. The hooded man has his hands around the woman's neck.]

ANTHONY: Hey, this is getting kinda freaky.

[The counter changes from 37096 to 37122. The webpage refreshes once more and the woman is shown with blood pouring from her slashed neck. The man is no longer to be seen. The boys are horrified by what they are seeing.]

BRANDON: God! We gotta tell somebody.

[Anthony picks up the phone, but hears only modem sounds. He puts the phone back down.]

DANNY: What are you going to tell them?

BRANDON: We need proof. Hey, print, press print!

[Danny hits the "print screen" button. The monitor shows "Printing..." but then "404 Not Found" "The URL you requested was not found".]

ANTHONY: Did that really happen?

[The printer whirrs and out comes a black-and-white picture of the woman slumped in the chair, her head back, showing her slashed neck.]

[fade to black]

[main titles]

[polaroid fade up]

"The Mikado"

[The scene opens on a close-up of the black-and-white photograph of the murdered woman.]

WATTS: The Group received reports from twenty-four police departments across the United States. All had complaints from citizens claiming to have witnessed a murder on a webcast.

[Watts and Frank are sat in Frank's living room. Frank is looking at the photograph.]

FRANK: And the accounts are consistent?

WATTS: Yes. Over a period of several hours a series of live still images updated. They depicted this woman being restrained to a chair and then being murdered when the number of hits on the website matched the number that was painted on the wall.

FRANK: Three-seven-one-two-two. And the web site?

WATTS: It disappeared. In your hands is the only visual record we have of the entire incident. Now some of the Group think that might have been staged. Might be some kind of sick performance art.

FRANK: No, it's real. Though the elaborate nature of the murder shows that he is performing for us. Who has jurisdiction over this?

WATTS: Technically, nobody. No law enforcement agency can claim jurisdiction until we can find out where this happened. The law just hasn't kept up with the technology.

FRANK: So we have no access to a crime scene, no physical evidence, and we don't even know the identity of the victim.

WATTS: Do you think he's going to commit another murder?

FRANK: You can count on it.

[Later. Roedecker's place. The photograph is turned over and placed face down on a scanner by Roedecker who then sits at his computer.]

ROEDECKER: OK. The first step in finding the victim's identity is to deconstruct her face to give the computer something it can compare to other faces.

[Roedecker has highlighted and enlarged a rectangular area of the photograph showing the woman's face.]

ROEDECKER: So, we highlight the cardinal points of the victim's face which creates a digital extraction which can be enhanced further by the minute degrees of pixel contrast. Basically reducing her face to a string of numbers that I can feed into the National Missing Persons Registry.

[The picture now has dots placed on it at strategic points. A series of photos of women's faces is displayed on another part of the computer screen as the comparisons are made.]

ROEDECKER: This will take a minute.

[While they wait, Frank moves a chair forward, and Roedecker gets up to pick some items off the floor.]

ROEDECKER: Sorry about the mess. It's the maid's day off.

FRANK: Don't worry about it.

[Frank sits down.]

FRANK: Your apartment's exactly how I imagined it would be.

[Roedecker smiles. Then the computer beeps.]

ROEDECKER: Oooh. We got six maybes.

FRANK: Show all of them.

[six boxes are shown on screen, each with a photograph and details.]

FRANK: Which ones of the missing women have an email address?

ROEDECKER: Uh, three. Claudia Vance, Rebecca Damsen, and Patricia Viamonte.

[Now only these three boxes are on screen.]

FRANK: Can you tell how active they were online before they went missing?

ROEDECKER: Viamonte's got a CompuNetServe account which she's used twice.

[screen shows Driving License - 12-345-6789 - Patricia Viamonte, 861 Maple, Lakewood, Co 50213, Birthdate 10-08-1957. Underneath the email address: pviamonte@CompuNetServe.com]

ROEDECKER: Vance has got the same kind of account and looks like she logged in about once a week.

[screen shows: Drivers license - V 193 486 418 299 - Claudia Vance 1611 Clydesdale Ave, Southfield (Michigan) - Birthdate 01.27.63. Email address: cvance@CompuNetServe.com]

FRANK: What about Damsen?

ROEDECKER: Oh, she's posted hundreds of messages in every conceivable newsgroup. Must have been online hundreds of hours a month.

[screen shows: Operators License - 5514-5847-2805-04 and 23827-922-978 - Rebecca Damsen, 3422 Rosewell, Sheboygan, WI 53234 - Birth: 08/25/72. Underneath is the email address and "2161 articles posted" and a list of newsgroups reading: alt.xxx.bondage, alt.xxx.boys, alt.xxx.breathless, alt.xxx.brothels, alt.xxx.erotica, alt.xxx.exhibitionism, alt.xxx.femdom, alt.xxx.fetish]

[Roedecker turns to Frank.]

ROEDECKER: My kind of woman. A real net chick.

FRANK: Is there a user profile?


[Roedecker starts reading the data on the screen.]

ROEDECKER: Female, 26, Librarian at the Sheboygan Conservatory of Music.

FRANK: She's the victim.

ROEDECKER: Why? Just because she uses a computer?

FRANK: No. Because he does. The web has become his world. He showed her off on the internet. He killed her on the internet. I believe that's where he first found her. He stalked her. Then made contact in cyberspace before abducting her in real life. It's possible there's a record of that contact. I need access to her email account.

ROEDECKER: We need to get permission from CompuNetServe and go through the bureaucracy. Probably have the files for you by the end of the week.

FRANK: Not good enough. The killer's already trawling for his next victim.

ROEDECKER: I could try hacking into their system. But I need something with a lot more firepower than what I have on here.

FRANK: Where can we get access to that kind of equipment?

ROEDECKER: Oooh, I can think of two places. One is the NSA data system at Vandenberg with level three clearance. The other is even harder to get into.

11:06:20 A.M. [The onscreen time display increases to 11:06:24 before fading]

[A darkened room, with a number of computers, each displaying the Millennium logo. Through the glass wall, three dimly-lit figures approach the door. There's a click, the lights come on and the door opens. Watts, followed by Roedecker and Frank, enter the room.]

WATTS: Access is usually restricted to members of the Millennium Group, but this is a special case, so anything you don't see – ask.

[How to describe Roedecker's impression of what he sees? Well, let's listen to his own words.]

ROEDECKER: My god. This is like a hacker's wet dream. Dicky Bird told me about this room but I thought he was just yanking my chain.

[He pauses and points excitedly.]

ROEDECKER: Ah! That's a T3 line. It's like a firehose compared to the soda straw we were sucking information out of before.

[He takes off his jacket and sits down at a computer. He types into a browser: www.CompuNetServe.com.]

ROEDECKER: You two may want to leave the room. What I'm doing isn't exactly legal.

FRANK: Just get in as quick as you can.

[While Frank and Watts stand behind him, Roedecker types in "rdamsen" in the login box and the password box shows a series of asterisks. He hits enter, the computer beeps twice, and the screen shows: Invalid password. He types another password and the computer beeps again. He types in another password and the computer shows "Access Granted".]


[The screen shows: "Mailbox acct: Queen Libido" and a series of subject headings: "I got your party stuff...", "Sex Slave", "Awsome Pic Site [secret]", "Let's do it ITF...", "Nether Olympics", "Intrigued", "Gotta know, details details", "Hot couple found, need Dig. Cam"]

ROEDECKER: Eleven seconds. Her password was "password".

FRANK: Her pseudonym online was Queen Libido.

[More subjects headings: "Pet Pics now available", "It'll be our secret", "Custom Videos for you", "Threesome possibilites", "My tongue is ang-shush... Shhhh", "Spank me, please, I'm begging", "It's not just a clever handle", "I like, I LiKe, I LIKE!!!", "Accessing... Processing...", "I can see the neighbors.. Ya!", "I'll open my wings for you...", "Cheap Cheap Cheap", "VRML model of me attached".]

WATTS: These are quite explicit. Doesn't synch with a librarian from the Sheboygan Conservatory of Music.

ROEDECKER: Some people feel liberated from their normal self when they adopt an internet persona. In the anonymity of cyberspace people are free to experiment. Online I've changed my name, my appearance, sexual orientation, even gender.

WATTS: That's more personal information than I need, Brian.

FRANK: Her primary correspondents was two men and a woman.

ROEDECKER: Two who claimed to be men and one who claims to be a woman.

FRANK: I think we ought to interview them as soon as possible.

WATTS: Who do you want to talk to first?

FRANK: Well, ideally all at once. Otherwise they'll communicate with each other and tip off the suspect. But we can't be in three places at one time.

WATTS: Actually, Frank, you can.

4:19:12 P.M. [The onscreen time display increases to 4:19:16 before fading]

[Roedecker attaches a label to the top of a monitor, reading "SAN JOSE". The monitor shows Watts in an outside location. A second monitor is labeled "COLUMBUS" and shows a view from inside a moving car. There is a third monitor, also showing the view from inside a car.]

ROEDECKER: We have full duplex vid connections with every city now. We can see and hear them.

[Frank puts on a headset. Roedecker picks up a gadget with buttons.]

ROEDECKER: These sliders allow you to turn up the volume on any of the three satcasts. If you want to talk, hit this [clicking a button], otherwise you can't be heard.

[Frank takes the gadget.]

FRANK: Peter, can you hear me?

[Watts can be seen on the San Jose monitor, just about to get into his car.]

WATTS: Yeah. Loud and clear.

FRANK: Detective Brusky?

[On the Columbus monitor, Brusky gives a thumbs up.]

FRANK: Sergeant Collier?

[On the Haverford monitor, the Sgt checks over his shoulder and says "Mm, mm" before turning back to continue driving.]

[Frank clicks off the gadget.]

FRANK: Let's go.

[The scene fades into a view from exactly the same viewpoint, but some time later. While Roedecker sits on a desk, Frank is standing in front of the Haverford monitor. An interview is taking place there.]

HAVERFORD MAN: Yeah, that's me. My onscreen name is Big One. But I never heard of a law against email.

FRANK: Ask him if he ever met Queen Libido.

HAVERFORD COP: Have you ever had any contact with Queen Libido.

HAVERFORD MAN: Never had, never will. I don't even want to see a picture. I get off on their minds. Physical attributes – boring. Look at me.

[Roedecker is amused. The focus then moves to the next monitor: San Jose, Peter Watts and another man outside an apartment door.]

WATTS: Frank, this is Officer Dominic.

DOMINIC: I don't think this Brandon Heygood III is home.

FRANK: Officer, time is of the essence.

DOMINIC: Can you turn that away a second.

[The video camera is turned away from the apartment door. There are sounds of a door being broken down.]

DOMINIC: What d'you know. Left the door unlocked.

[Watts and the officer enter the now-open apartment.]

[Frank switches the audio channel.]

MAN: Detective, there must be some mistake.

[The monitor, labeled Columbus, shows a man and a woman, in a sitting room, being interviewed by police.]

MAN: The person you're looking for is obviously female – with a name like Ladylove. [to the woman] Honey, have you been logging online?

FRANK: Brusky, I think you'll find more success if you isolated the husband.

BRUSKY: Mrs O'Connor, do you think we might talk to your husband in private for a moment.

[The woman gets up and leaves. Frank switches audio channel again.]

FRANK: Peter, anything of interest?

WATTS: Still looking. Smells terrible in here. Food rotting. Like he hasn't been home for days.

[Frank has been watching the view of the search of the San Jose apartment. He now turns his attention to the Columbus interview.]

OFFICER: What not use your own name?

MAN: It's a nom-de-plume. It's very common amongst authors and literary people. Ladylove just happens to be my writing persona.

[Frank sees something showing via the San Jose monitor.]

FRANK: Peter – on the wall. What was on the wall?

WATTS: [to cameraman] Show him the wall. Show him the pictures.

[The camera shows, amongst other pictures, a picture of a cemetery.]

FRANK: That's it – the cemetery. The victim, that's where the girl is. I can't do this on video.

BRUSKY: You want to come down after the storm to do the search?

WATTS: They're predicting heavy rains here, Frank. El Nino. A lot of evidence could be washed away before you get here.

FRANK: Then go there, get to the cemetery now.

[Day. Cars arriving at a cemetery. Back at base, Frank watches through the monitor.]

WATTS: Let us be your eyes and ears, Frank. You just tell us where to look.

FRANK: Show me everything.

[The camera man, along with Watts and Brusky, start walking through the cemetery.]

WATTS: I know it's difficult, Frank, but try to tell me what you think and try to put it into words.

FRANK: I can't put it into words. What I do exists somewhere on the other side of words.

WATTS: It's going to rain, Frank. We're not going to get a second chance at this.

[Frank goes back over to the table, where Roedecker is sat. He puts the audio switching machine down, leans on the table and sighs.]

FRANK: You slaughtered that young girl for no other reason than you wanted to.

[He looks at Roedecker who is beginning to look a little alarmed.]

FRANK: You hate yourself but you feel like you're god at the same time. But maybe the bitch had it coming.

[Detective Brusky, listening on his earpiece, is puzzled by what he's hearing.]

FRANK: I watched the life blood drain from her body. And now she is mine forever. I showed her to the world. And now I have her in a safe place where I can see her any time I want.

[Roedecker is more alarmed and swallows nervously. Now Frank looks back at the monitor.]

FRANK: There's a shed.

[He picks up the audio switch and walks towards the monitor.]

WATTS: Over here. A shed.

[Watts, the officers and the cameraman run over to a small building, the doors are chained and padlocked. Watts checks the padlock.]

WATTS: It hasn't been opened, Frank.

FRANK: Show me the lock. [The camera moves in close.] That's a new lock. That's my lock. I wanted to be careful. He wanted to be careful. Open it up, get in there.

[The chains and padlock are forced open. Watts opens the doors and goes in. On a table are two large plastic bags, each containing a bloody object about the size and shape of a human head.]

OFFICER: God, it's both of them, the girl and Heygood.

WATTS; Heygood's not our killer, he's another victim.

[Frank spots something on the monitor.]

FRANK: Those are numbers.

[Watts shines his flashlight up to the roof. Between the rafters, there are numbers painted on the underside of the roofing.

WATTS: Three six two, five eight eight, nine twelve. Maybe passages from the bible.


FRANK: It's an internet address.

[in the shed, the flashlights continue to play over the gruesome scene. Frank sighs and reaches to remove his earpiece.]

FRANK: He's taken another victim.

[fade to black]

[polaroid fade up]

[Monitor showing an empty wooden chair. On the wall behind are the numbers: 696314. Frank is watching the screen. Watts enters the room.]

WATTS: Any changes on the website?

9:14:59 P.M.

FRANK: Only the target number of the website hits. The chair's exactly the same.

[Roedecker is also there, on the phone. Watts points to an area on the monitor.]

WATTS: On the floor – the spray pattern is consistent with a carotid artery being cut.

FRANK: Anything from the shack?

WATTS: No. No prints or useful fibers. He was very careful. The FBI's been alerted. They're prepared to mobilize whenever we can find the location of the site. Which could be anywhere.

ROEDECKER: [on phone] OK. All set.

[He puts the phone down.]

ROEDECKER: [to Frank] CompuNetServe is ready to help with the trace.

[He taps away at the keyboard, then points to the screen which shows a series of connections between major US cities.]

ROEDECKER: This shows how the web connection is routed. [points to another screen] And this is the audit information. We find out not only how the website gets to us but also how the picture got to the website. I've got to do the whole trace within one cycle. Every time it updates we're back to ground zero.

[As he types, the website counter increases.]


ROEDECKER: Before it got to us it traveled the fiber backbone.

[screen shows trace routing, then graphical indication of net connections.]

ROEDECKER: Come on. Just a second more. The picture was routed to a server in Michigan.

[Types some more. More graphical representation.]

ROEDECKER: Boston. It's on the main server for the state of Massachusetts. I've got it originating in a suburb called Wellesley.

[Route status screen: Trace Route Complete Bounced :: Chicago, IL Bounced :: Detroit, MI Bounced :: Buffalo, NY Routed :: Boston, MA Routed :: Wellesley, MA]

[Watts picks up the phone.]


[Route status screen shows: Packet Lost.]

ROEDECKER: Damn. Lost it.

WATTS: We need an account number. And we need a name.

ROEDECKER: I'm getting close. The next one'll give me an address.

[Watts replaces the phone.]

WATTS: Boston law enforcement's ready to move when we say so.

[The website number increases from 014726 to 015323.]


[Route status shows: Bounced :: Vancouver, BC Bounced :: Calgary, AB Bounced :: Salt Lake City, UT]

ROEDECKER: What? That's impossible. No-one can do this.

FRANK: What's going on?

[Route status shows: Routed :: San Francisco, CA Routed :: Honolulu, HI]

ROEDECKER: This update is coming from an entirely different server. It's coming from Hawaii, uh, the server's in Honolulu.

WATTS: What is it? Boston or Hawaii?

[Route status now shows: Packet lost. Roedecker is pretty rattled by all this.]

ROEDECKER: I have to start over. Tracking back. It came off the backbone.

[Route status shows: Bounced :: Toronto, ON Bounced :: Ottawa, ON Bounced :: Halifax, NS]

ROEDECKER: That's right, come to papa. Routing information …

[Graphical representation of link across the Atlantic. Route status shows: Routed :: London, UK Routed :: Canterbury, UK]

ROEDECKER: … it's coming from Canterbury, England. I don't get it.

[Website counter increases, status: packet lost.]

FRANK: He's playing with us. He gave us this internet address because he knew we couldn't trace it.

ROEDECKER: There are two million lines of code running CompuNetServe. No-one knows what else is in there.

[screen shows empty chair.]

ROEDECKER: I'm sorry. I can't identify the source of the call. The best I can do is disconnect the website.

FRANK: No. Then we cut off our only source of information.

[He focuses on the number.]

FRANK: Six nine six three one four.

[He gets up while Roedecker continues on the keyboard. The website counter now reads 021996.]

FRANK: Six nine six three one four.

[Watts goes over to him.]

WATTS: I have a feeling this is more than just a target number. It's a puzzle. It's a code. Something we have to unravel.

FRANK: Peter, six nine six three one four. I know that number. I practically lived with it when I was in the FBI. San Francisco file, aka Avatar. Still unsolved. Does that ring a bell?

WATTS: Well, yeah, but you're taking a twelve year leap. The last murder that was attributed to Avatar was in 1986.

FRANK: He was the same kind of predator. He killed couples, he took souvenirs, he taunted the police.

WATTS: The unique aspect of this case is the public nature of the act. It's murder on display. That's the salient detail we've got to focus on.

FRANK: No, it's just a new medium to vent the same old rage. You take the technology out of it, it's just the same crime. Six nine six three one four. It can't be a coincidence.

[back at the desk, the computer beeps.]

ROEDECKER: Mr Black. Mr Watts. The picture changed. This just came in.

[Frank and Watts have gone over to Roedecker and look carefully at the screen which shows a series of symbols.]

WATTS: Forward that to FBI cryptography.

ROEDECKER: Already did.

[Frank goes over to the printer and picks up a printout of the screen.]

FRANK: A rotation substitution cipher. Semaphore codes, horoscope symbols. Just like Avatar.

[The screen goes blank.]

ROEDECKER: Looks like we lost the signal.

FRANK: That's not blank. That's a curtain. Just like on the stage. He's going to open a curtain and show us something.

WATTS: Print every frame.

ROEDECKER: Printing.

[screen changes to show a woman's hand gripping the arm of a wooden chair.]

FRANK: His next victim.

[screen changes to show ropes across the woman's chest.]

ROEDECKER: I don't know if I want to see this.

WATTS: If we can ID her at least we can tell where she came from. That's the first step to finding out where he's holding her.

[screen updates again and Roedecker is looking very uncomfortable.]

FRANK: No, he won't show us her face. That's how we found the other two bodies.

[screen updates to showing the symbols again.]

FRANK: The cipher is all he's going to give us.

12:20:08 a.m.

[Frank is studying printouts of the cipher.]

WATTS: We sent the cipher to the Group's cryptographer. As yet they haven't had much luck. Agent Tully, how's it going at your end?

TULLY: We've run it through every known algorithmic solution. So far nothing.

[Watts is talking with SA Tully via the video conferencing system.]

WATTS: Did you try my suggestion?

TULLY: Yeah, we tried it. This recent code may look similar, but it's not the same as the Avatar code sent ten years ago.

WATTS: OK. We'll be here if you come with anything.

[He switches off the video link.]

WATTS: He could be a copycat. Someone who was obsessed with the case. With him. Obsessed enough to re-create it.

FRANK: The most recent events are not a copy. It's a whole new creation. From the slipstream of electrons. A world as real as life or death but disappears in the blink of an eye. The devil has a new playground. [sighs heavily] "Six nine six three one four" was a message. The cipher was another message. He found this important enough to send it twice. First before the reveal of the victim and then again after.

ROEDECKER: What if he didn't send the same one twice?

FRANK: I've check this thing a dozen times. Every symbol, every position, it's exactly the same.

ROEDECKER: Well, to our eye maybe. But at the pixel level there could be a slight difference between pictures. Each point could be one of 64,000 colors, right? We can't tell the difference between, say, the color number 32,105 and color number 32,106, right? It's just one small dot in a big picture.

FRANK: So, two pictures which appear identical by sight and they have the same file size can conceal within them a hidden message?

ROEDECKER: Yes, those two files may be different, not in a major way but in a minute way. It's called least significant digit. The imperceptible difference between pictures conceals a binary number. If we find that number, we'll find the message.

[screen changes from the picture of the bound woman, to the Millennium logo, to the cipher.]

ROEDECKER: This is the cipher as we know it. And this is how we're going to decode it. We compare binaries in successive pairs of pictures until we find a tiny difference.

[screen shows: "Input Image LSD Verification", a frame showing blocks of colors, and strings of binary numbers.]

ROEDECKER: There's a mismatch. And another, and another.

WATTS: Thousands of bits. Is the embedded message in a recognizable file type?

[screen shows: Comparison complete Saved {1} One File c:\temp\`101272.WAV]

ROEDECKER: A sound file.

FRANK: Play it.

[screen shows: "Playing saved file c:\temp\101272.WAV" - it's a song.]

FRANK: Defer, defer, to the Lord High Executioner.

WATTS: The Mikado.

FRANK: Yeah, Avatar's favorite operetta.

[Cut to better sound quality – a CD of The Mikado playing on a sound system. Frank and Watts talk while the music plays in the background.]

FRANK: This was never made public. Maybe ten people in the nation knew about it.

WATTS: What is it?

[Frank has handed Watts some photographs.]

FRANK: Avatar sent four ciphers to the San Francisco newspapers. Three of them were published. An amateur cryptographer cracked it. The fourth …

WATTS: … was never decoded.

FRANK: That's what we led people to believe, but we cracked it. "We work in the dark, we do what we can, we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion."

WATTS: "Our passion is our task. And the rest is the madness of art." Henry James.

FRANK: Yeah, but Avatar changed one word: The rest is the madness of pain. Brian, is there a way that we could send a message to his website?

ROEDECKER: No, there's no email link. But I did find a newsgroup, alt.crime.murder that's gone crazy over this web death room. It has over three hundred new posts in the last two hours.

FRANK: [to Watts] What do you think?

WATTS: If it really is Avatar, there's a chance he's monitoring that newsgroup. We could take a shot.

FRANK: We'll send our own cipher. We'll do the Henry James, without the last word. We'll sign it "skeptic". We address it to the Lord High Executioner. Got that, Brian?

[Roedecker starts typing.]

ROEDECKER: Who is this Avatar, anyway?

FRANK: That's a good question.

[Photographs of crime scenes.]

WATTS: As many as nineteen murders over a period of seven years attributed to Avatar.

FRANK: The only survivor described Avatar as wearing a robe and a hood.

[shot of drawing of a hooded and robed figure, holding a handgun. Scene now shows a flashback to that particular crime.]


DECEMBER 2, 1982

FRANK: His eighth victim was a cab driver. Avatar shot him on a crowded street. Still covered with blood he was seen heading into a public park.

[Frank's narrates over the flashback – which shows a young woman opening the driver's door of the cab and screaming as the dead body of the cab driver falls out. Then the park, police officers searching using flashlights.]

FRANK: Forty police officers were sent into the park. They searched all night, finding no-one. The police gave up the search at dawn. Days later, a letter arrived, with a swatch of bloodied clothing. Avatar accurately described dozens of officers who were searching for him in the park. Down to the badge numbers. He was that close. But none of the officers saw him.

[back in the Millennium room.]

FRANK: I was with the search team in the park. But I was younger and my instincts weren't as refined. But I felt him. I was too slow to react. He was gone.

[The computer beeps and Roedecker looks at the screen.]

ROEDECKER: Oh my god.

[The screen shows a young blonde woman, bound to the chair, her face covered with a white cloth but showing her forehead on which is written: "PAIN".]

FRANK: He's back.

[fade to black]

[polaroid fade up]

[A black leather jacket. The zip is pulled closed. The wearer's face is covered with a mask on which there is a symbol – a circle bisected by a vertical bar. There is the sound of heavy breathing. The symbol is shown with the inside of the circle cut out and an eye watching through it. Superimposed over this is the rope being used to bind the woman. The breathing intensifies. There is a knife with a serrated edge. The woman's hand clenches on the arm of the chair. There is a slashing sound and the woman screams. Suddenly, Frank wakes up from his nightmare. He's in the Millennium room. He's wearing a black leather jacket. Roedecker is also asleep, snoring and drooling.]

5:54:28 A.M.

[Frank gets up and goes over to the monitor. It is still showing the bound woman. The counter reads 605413. He goes over to the table and picks up the picture of the earlier murder showing the number 37122. He puts the photo down on the table and thinks. Then he checks a map: 37 degrees N, and traces along to 122 degrees. At the intersection of the two is San Francisco. Watts enters the room carrying a brown paper bag. He opens one of the blinds.]

WATTS: We've just got time for breakfast before the video conference. FBI set up links all across the country. Anywhere where there was a girl reported missing that might match our victim on the website.

FRANK: Cancel it. We're casting too wide a net.

WATTS: Frank, the first victim was from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

FRANK: Yes, but her body was found in San Jose. Three seven one two two – that's what was on the wall behind the first victim. Thirty-seven north, one twenty two west. That's San Francisco in the atlas. Three seven one two two. The counter on that website is already above six hundred thousand. At this rate, we've got a day. If we direct our search across the whole United States, we're never going to make it. He told us who he is. He told us what to look for. And dammit I should have seen it, should have felt it, but I'm in here in front of this monitor and I don't feel a thing. I cannot feel anything through those wires. He has put us on the defensive and he's been two steps ahead of us all along. You know why, because we're not taking control.

WATTS: The argument could be made that he told us where to look because he isn't there.

FRANK: He's too arrogant for that kind of deception. Avatar will tell us how to find him. And then, after he escapes, he proves his superiority.

WATTS: If we do what he wants, that may be the cue he's waiting for to kill this girl.

FRANK: If we don't do something, it guarantees she dies.

WATTS: OK. We'll take it one step at a time. [picks up phone] We'll narrow the search to start by briefing the San Francisco police.

[Monitor shows bound woman again. Then screen changes to an out-of-focus image of someone's eye. Roedecker is giving instructions.]

ROEDECKER: No, the other way. Turn the focus ring the other way.

[The screen zooms out showing a man's face. The camera he is adjusting appears to be set up fairly high on a wall of an office.]

ROEDECKER: He's zoomed out instead of focusing.

WATTS: All right, Brian. I still can't program my VCR.

7:36:57 A.M.

WATTS: Captain Bartman, can you see and hear us?

CAPTAIN: Loud and clear.

[One monitor shows Frank and Watts, the other shows three men in (presumably) the San Francisco police department office.]

CAPTAIN: We got the faxes. And I have to say I'm confused. The first two bodies were found in a cemetery in San Jose. What leads you to believe that this death room is located in San Francisco?

FRANK: He's in San Francisco, Captain, because that's where he's always been. I believe we're dealing with Avatar here. He targets couples, he kills the male, he kidnaps the girl, then enslaves her before the murder. These are low-risk victims, mostly likely professionals.

CAPTAIN: Wait a minute – Avatar? The maniac from the eighties?

WATTS: Yes, we have strong evidence to indicate …

[The police captain moves over to look directly into the camera.]

CAPTAIN: I was a homicide detective when Avatar was active. I know the fear he inspired in this city, in this department and, if the truth be told, in me. And not many people know this but we had two suspects. One worked in a hardware store, the other construction, both were college dropouts, both highly intelligent and both are dead. Now all this you got here, the faxes, the computers, the internet web room, this camera I'm speaking into, none of this can replace old-fashioned leg work and with just a little bit of legwork you'd have found out what I already know. Now if there's anything else I can help you gentleman with, pick up a phone.

[He switches off the camera. After a pause, Watts leans over and switches off their camera, too.]

[Frank sits down at the desk. The monitor shows the woman, the counter has increased to 609622.]

WATTS: Brian, at the current rate, how long before the number of hits on the website match the target number.

ROEDECKER: The site's been getting about four thousand hits per hour, that gives us maybe twenty-one hours.

FRANK: Four thousand people visit this site just because a girl might be killed.

ROEDECKER: Well, there's a lot of repeat business and most of them just hope that she'll take off her clothes.

WATTS: Yeah, but some of them know what's going to happen. They saw or heard about it on the previous site. Their actions now practically make them accessories to the crime.

ROEDECKER: Well, not to be even more downbeat, but the rate of web hits always increases the closer it gets to the anticipated event.

[Frank's computer beeps. He is exasperated and hits the monitor.]

FRANK: Dammit.

[The small camera falls off the top of the monitor and Frank leans down and picks it up. He turns it around in his hand, almost absent-mindedly, then notices that the camera is showing his face on a nearby monitor. He turns the monitor around to show Roedecker slumped in his chair.]

FRANK: Peter.

[Watts comes over. The girl on the website and Roedecker are in almost exactly the same positions. Watts and Frank look over at Roedecker who sees them looking at him.]

ROEDECKER: What did I do?

[The scene changes to a studio mock-up of the website scene.]

9:48:07 A.M.

[Frank is watching the activity. Studio technicians are working. There is a female look-alike sat in a wooden chair. Roedecker is working on a computer system creating a webpage the same as the original. A make-up artist is working on the "PAIN" inscription on the woman's face.]

MAKE-UP ARTIST: Just a little bit more and then I'm done.

WATTS: Frank. I've been in touch with Compunetserve. When we switch the feed from the server to his site to ours, they've indicated a possibility of a momentary lag lasting for more than three seconds. If he happens to be looking at his monitor at that moment …

FRANK: … he kills her.

[Watts nods. Frank looks over at the substitute woman, now bound and masked. He and Watts move over to where Roedecker is working.]

WATTS: We'll still be able to see Avatar's site, but everyone else including him will be diverted to ours.

FRANK: It's the only way we can ensure the hit counter never reaches his target. At best it gives us about eighteen hours before he decides something's wrong.

ROEDECKER: I'm ready.

WATTS: It has to be a perfect match, Brian.

ROEDECKER: It only has to appear perfect at 640 by 480. Angela, move your right hand a hair to your left.

[The woman does so.]

WATTS: At the next update, we take over.

[The web counter increases to 617465.]

[Frank briefly puts his hand on Roedecker's shoulder.]

FRANK: Do it.

[Roedecker taps at the keyboard. The monitor shows some static and then clears, showing the fake image.]


WATTS: Now what.

FRANK: I wish I knew.

1:06:13 P.M.

[The computer beeps and the screen updates.]

ROEDECKER: Angela, slide down a little and move to your left.

ANGELA: Thank god she moved. I was beginning to lose feeling in my right side.

[Roedecker gets up and goes towards her.]

ROEDECKER: Um, do you need any water or anything?

ANGELA: Not right now.

ROEDECKER: You know, there's usually a least a minute between updates, I could, uh, give you a massage or something, to get some of the circulation back.

ANGELA: Is this some kind of a sick come-on? I'm not enjoying myself. I don't get tied up in real life.

[Roedecker seems rather uncomfortable.]

ROEDECKER: Forget it. Forget I ever mentioned it.

[The computer beeps. Avatar's screen has changed to show a cipher.]

WATTS: Frank.

[Avatar's screen changes again. Back to the woman. The knife is visible.]

ANGELA: What's going on?

[Avatar's screen updates again to show the woman's neck has been cut. Roedecker turns away, distressed. Then the screen updates to show the cipher again.]

FRANK: Print it.

[Watts hits the print button.]

[fade to black]

[polaroid fade up]

[A monitor shows a changing sequence of binary numbers. The cipher is being checked as before for a hidden message. Roedecker is typing.]


1:37:24 P.M.

ROEDECKER: The message hidden in the last webcast ciphers appear to be two URLs.

WATTS: Two web sites. What does that mean? Two more victims.

FRANK: It could represent an escalation. Bring it up, Brian.

[The monitor shows in inset screen showing another death room. The number on the wall is 503581 and the web counter shows 00345.]

ROEDECKER: Not again. I hate that chair.

WATTS: The target number's gone down.

FRANK: I'm not certain what that number represents. He killed the last girl before he reached the target. Bring up the other web site.

[The monitor shows a second inset screen. This time is the outside of a trailer. On the trailer is a number: 350047734.]

ROEDECKER: Three hundred and fifty million hits? That'll never happen.

FRANK: If that's a live picture, we've caught ourselves a major break.

WATTS: Modem all the information on that web site to the FBI.

[Watts picks up a phone.]

WATTS: What do you make of that number, Frank?

FRANK: Well, it's too long to be a case file or a geographical direction.

WATTS: [into phone] Special Agent Tully, please, I'll hold.

FRANK: Maybe it's the square root of a more significant number.

[He taps the digits into a calculator as Brian read them out. Watts is watching while he waits to be connected, but he's looking at the calculator readout screen upside down.]

WATTS: Whoa. Maybe it's a word.

[Frank turns the calculator around. The digits seen upside down read: hEllh00SE.]

FRANK: Hellhouse – change an 0 for a U.

[Frank looks at the trailer web site – the counter reads 01512.]

FRANK: We find that RV and we've got him.

2:04:18 P.M.

[The annoying SF captain is sat at his desk when his phone rings.]

CAPTAIN: Bachman.

FRANK: Captain Bachman, this is Frank Black. I'm forwarding information to you and the Police Commissioner from the FBI regarding the internet killer.

[Frank is using a speakerphone.]

BACHMAN: I see you've finally given up the idea this is Avatar.

FRANK: Regardless of his name, we believe he's located in a twenty square mile area in and around San Francisco, adjacent to a body of water.

BACHMAN: Now, how did you come to determine that, Mr Black.

[Frank is frustrated by Bachman's attitude and thumps the desk with his fist. Watts comes over.]

WATTS: Captain, this is Peter Watts. We determined that from a picture, the location of the sun on the horizon, the exact time of day, the angle of the shadow on a fixed object of standard height. All these details are contained in the email from the FBI.

FRANK: If it would be more convenient, I could talk to the Commissioner.

BACHMAN: No need to bother the Commissioner, Mr Black. If the boys from the FBI says that's where he is, then that's where we're going to find him. I'll send out a couple of patrol cars right away.

[Frank hits the off button on the phone.]

FRANK: He's covering his behind. I'm going to San Francisco.

WATTS: Frank, I believe him, he's going to send out those patrols.

FRANK: No, it's not about him, it's about me. I do better being there.

[Watts looks at the monitor showing both web sites. Then the scene shifts to an RV parked on rough ground near a bridge.]



[inside the RV, there is a TV showing just static. The camera tracks back from the TV and we see a man, seemingly asleep, in a armchair. Another man walks up behind him and, now seeing the seated man from the front, we see that his throat has been cut. The man covers him with a black cloth on which is the same symbol, a circle bisected by a vertical bar.]

[A car driving down a San Francisco street.]

4:23:59 P.M.

[Frank is driving. His cellphone rings.]

FRANK: Frank Black.

WATTS: Frank, they're getting more specific with that image. The door is from a Casalette brand mobile home, manufactured between '69 and '74. SFPD is canvassing every waterside trailer park and parking lot in the area.

FRANK: Anything on the other web site?

WATTS: No. They keep updating it, it's still the chair so far. Where are you heading?

FRANK: I don't know. Just a few of the haunts where Avatar dropped the bodies. [sighs] I don't know if it'll get us anywhere. Just being outside away from that damn computer, I feel like my senses are finally working.

WATTS: Well, leave your phone on. I'll update you as soon as I find out anything new.

FRANK: All right.

[An alarm fitted to the side of a structure shows a flashing red light. A police car drives up past the structure which is near the edge of a body of water. Through the windows of the police car, we can see a bridge – exactly as in the earlier scene showing the RV. The police officer driving the car spots the RV – with the same number on it as on the web site. The officer in the passenger seat compares the RV with the picture on his laptop.]

[Frank is driving and he stops at a junction. A bus has just stopped across the road to pick up passengers. He sees the bus's destination board: 50 Geary. He picks up the print of the new web site showing the number 503581. For the first time, he gets a vision: the black robe with the circle and bar symbol. The bus drives off and Frank follows it.]

[back at the Millennium room, the web site updates again while Roedecker watches. This time there is a shadow cast on the front of the RV.]

ROEDECKER: Mr Watts, I think you should see this.

[Watts comes over as the website updates again – showing the two police officers either side of the RV's door.]

[As the bus stops in traffic, Frank pulls up on the other side of the street. Then the bus pulls away and Frank notices that the building, which looks like a theatre, outside of which the bus had stopped is numbered 3581 Geary Street. Again Frank picks up the picture of the web site. He leaves the car and goes across the street. Part of the advertising board for the theatre is covered with posters. As Frank is looking at these, his phone rings.]

FRANK: Frank Black.

WATTS: Frank, they found the RV. It's at the Powell Wrecking Yard in Oakland. 6521 Alessandro. Officers are there now.

FRANK: I'm on my way.

[He clicks the phone off. Then turns to look again at the building. Another vision: the circle and bar symbol, but in blood. He starts pulling some of the posters away. This reveals that underneath is an advertisement, showing the letters: "ado". Frank gets another vision: the knife, blood. He goes along the sidewalk to the stage door. He pulls on it and it opens and he goes inside.]

[At the RV, the two police officers are still either side of the door, another police car and armed officer is also there as back up. One police officer knocks on the door.]

OFFICER: San Francisco police. Anyone home?

[There is no answer and the officer reaches for the door handle and slowly opens the door. As he does so, the other police officer moves into position. The door opens further and we see a wire leading from it into the interior of the RV. The wire goes via a couple of pulleys and ends up attached to the trigger of a shotgun. The gun fires, hitting the police officer. The back-up officer returns fire and then radios for help.]

OFFICER: This is unit four-nineteen. Shots fired. Officer down. Officer down at 6521 Alessandro. Officer down!

[Frank is carefully checking out the interior of the theatre. It seems deserted – furniture is covered with dustcloths. He sees a framed poster on a nearby wall. It's for The Mikado. Then music starts – trumpets, the opening bars of music from The Mikado.]

[The trumpet sounds segue into police sirens. More police cars arrive at the RV site. Two police officers grab the fallen officer and pull him away to a safer position.]

[back in the theatre, the Mikado soundtrack: "Defer, defer, to the Lord High Executioner". Frank goes into the empty auditorium and quickly runs down towards the stage, carefully looking around him.]

[back at the RV site, a police officer armed with a handgun nods to a colleague with a teargas gun. The officer fires a teargas grenade into the window of the RV and as the gas billows through the RV and out the shattered window, armed police officers approach the RV. There is an explosion and the officers are thrown to the ground. Further explosions – starting at one end and traversing the whole length of the RV.]

[Theatre. "So adventurous a tale, which may rank with most romances." Frank approaches the stage. "Taken from the county jail." Frank parts the curtains and sees an empty wooden chair, and the number 503581 on the wall behind. "By a set of curious chances." Frank steps through the gap in the curtain. On the stage is a camera on a tripod. "Liberated then on bail." Now a monitor screen shows the chair and a shadow. The screen updates. Watching the screen are Roedecker and Watts.]

ROEDECKER: They got him right? There's no way he could have got away.

[Theatre. Frank sits down in the chair, looking at the number on the wall behind. "Wafted by a favoring gale." Frank has a vision: PAIN written on a woman's forehead. "As one sometimes is in trances."]

[Monitor shows an updated view: of Frank sitting down in the chair.]

WATTS: There's Frank.

[Theatre. "Defer, defer." Frank gets up and stands behind the chair, hands resting on the chair back. "To the Lord High Executioner." He goes over to the side of the stage and down some stairs into another part of the building. "Defer, defer, to the Lord High Executioner."]

[The screen updates again. Now a robed figure stands behind the chair. The robe bears the bisected circle symbol.]

WATTS: No, they didn't get him.

[Watts grabs the telephone.]

[Frank is going down a corridor. His cellphone rings. As he pulls it out of his pocket to answer, a gunshot rings out and hits the wall immediately behind him. Frank ducks round a corner and pulls out his handgun. He lunges back out into the corridor, gun pointing, but the corridor is empty. He runs back down the corridor and around the corner to the stairs. The robed figure fires at him. They exchange gunfire, the robed figures gun clicks empty and he runs off. Frank follows up the stairs. On the stage is a robed figure, standing still and facing him. The robed figure holds a gun, pointing at Frank. As Frank starts pulling back on the trigger, he realizes something is not quite right. He focusses on the eyeholes of the mask – and sees not eyes but white cloth. He stands up from the shelter of the stairwell and slowly approaches the figure, gun held at the ready. He steps to one side, then approaches slowly, grabs the gun and wrenches it free of the robed figure's hand. Then he pulls the hood off from the figure. The person revealed is the woman, cloth around her face showing only her forehead: PAIN. He pulls down the cloth. The woman is terrified. He puts his arms around her.]

FRANK: You're safe now. Nobody's going to hurt you.

[The woman sobs in his arms as the Mikado song ends.]

[Fade to black.]

[A flash of light from a camera, someone taking a photograph of the stage. Watts approaches Frank.]

WATTS: You all right?

[Frank shakes his head.]

WATTS: They found a badly burned body at the mobile home at the wrecking yard. Identification's going to be difficult but police believe it was the internet killer.

FRANK: No. It's another victim. Twice I've been close enough to stop him. Twice I've failed, Pete.

WATTS: Well, you didn't fail. You saved this girl.

FRANK: He's still out there.

WATTS: Is he going to reappear?

FRANK: Not in this form. Not in this medium.

[Frank walks over the number painted on the wall.]

FRANK: But when he finds that next thing, that next weakness, that's when he'll be there again.

[Again the empty wooden chair.]

FRANK: You can count on it.

[fade to black]

[end titles]

[Transcriber's note: Omega, a member of TIWWA, posted the following note: In the graveyard where the first victim's head is found, the name 'Hans Renker' is scratched on a rough wooden cross. 'Hans Renker' is a scenic painter (paint co- ordinator) who has worked on episodes of the X-Files, Harsh Realm.]


Lance Henriksen (Frank Black)

Megan Gallagher (Catherine Black)

Also Starring:

Terry O'Quinn (Peter Watts)

Guest Starring:

Allan Zinyk (Brian Roedecker)

Greg Michaels (Captain Bachman)


Gillian Carfra (The Web Girl)

Micah Gardener (Brandon)

Tony Smpson (Anthony)

Justin Wong (Danny)

Rachel Hayward (Angela)

Jonathan Bruce (Haverford Man)

Aaron Fry (Columbus Man)

Dawn Murphy (Special Agent Tully)

Harrison R. Coe (S.F. Officer)

Patrick J. Phillips (Detective Brusky)

Eileen Pedde ("Pain" victim)


Rachel Griffin (Makeup Artist)

Bobby Stewart (Sergeant Collier)

Music by Mark Snow

Editor: Chris Willingham A.C.E.

Production Designer: Mark Freeborn

Director of Photography: Robert McLachlan

Executive Story Editor: Michael R. Perry

Associate Producer: Julie Herlocker

Associate Producer: Jon-Michael Preece

Consulting Producer: Chip Johannessen

Consulting Producer: Darin Morgan

Co-Producer: Robert Moresco

Co-Producer: Paul Rabwin

Producer: Thomas J. Wright

Co-Executive Producer: Ken Horton

Co-Executive Producer: John Paul Kousakis

Written by Michael R. Perry

Directed by Roderick J. Pridy

Executive Producers: James Wong & Glen Morgan

Executive Producer: Chris Carter

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