An accurate, purposeful typist can't be seen, but we hear the soft clicking sounds of the keystrokes forming a message on a computer screen.
A female voice narrates: Our story began on January 23, 2005, but I should actually go back further. I don't recall the exact date, but I do remember that it started with a question.
Fade to a large house on a private beach in the tropics. It's nighttime and the sky is full of stars. LUCY SHEPHERD, barely five years old, is sitting on her father's lap. JOSEPH SHEPHERD is in a wheelchair. They're on the porch looking up at the stars. It's immediately apparent that Lucy is older than her years.
Lucy: Do you think there's life on any other planets?
Joseph: No one knows. I bet there is, though.
No bet . The universe is so gigantic, it's pretty egotistical of anyone to think there isn't.
You're Daddy's little genius, you know that?
(smiling) I love you, Daddy.
I love you, honey.
They sit for a few moments in comfortable silence. Lucy has sparkling eyes and shiny red hair. She rests her head on her father's shoulder as they continue to look up at the stars.
Thought any more about what you want to be?
All the time. Haven't decided yet though.
Just as long as you know... You can be anything you can imagine. Think big Lucy.
I do think big, Daddy.
I know you do honey. And remember this too: What you do isn't who you are. Whatever decisions you're faced with in life, there's one important question to ask yourself.
I know, Daddy... Who do I want the world to know me as?
I keep trying to tell you, it's not about the world.
It might be about the world for me though, Daddy.
Well then you'll have to imagine that everything you think, say and do, is potentially available to the public. Even the things you do privately.
That's crazy and terrible! I don't want to take a bath in public or have this conversation in public either.
You don't have to. I said you have to imagine that it might be. In other words, whatever you do -- if you're going to do it, you have be okay with others knowing about it.
Oh, okay. I get that. But what if you've done something you're not proud of... something you'd rather no one else knows...
Well, then, you need forgiveness.
Musical montage while credits roll [Moody Blues, Your Wildest Dreams]. Silent scenes of Lucy graduating from college, then working for NASA as a scientist and astronaut. She's thinner than most women in perfect physical condition. Though she has beautiful features, her overall appearance is plain. Like many extremely intelligent women, Lucy is unconcerned with her outward appearance. [see Nicole Kidman as Virginia Wolf].
Montage ends with a shot of the space shuttle Messenger taking off. Close up on the name: MESSENGER.
Fade in to a sunny day somewhere in the tropics. A beautiful woman is sitting on a porch that faces the beach. She appears to be in her 30s, and radiant in her last trimester of pregnancy. She has very short, spiky red hair, no glasses, and is sitting with eyes closed as if in relaxed meditation. A laptop computer is nearby.
When she opens her eyes, we recognize that it's Lucy, regardless of how different she looks [see if Nicole Kidman could have pulled off Bridget Jones]. She gracefully arranges herself at the computer, and begins typing a letter to her unborn child:
As she types we hear her thoughts being narrated.
I'm trying to tell the story of how you got here, but the funny thing is, I don't know it myself. I've been remembering pieces and recording it here for you. Except I tend to prefer cosmic truth, as opposed to earthly reality these days. Which is so ironic once you know my history. I guess that's what I'm trying to tell you, my whole truth. It's cumbersome, but we have time.
The narration continues as the visual scene transforms to Lucy in bed. She's completely bald and very white, but no longer skinny or plain. Her body is vuluptous and her face is radiant.
A mature black woman, JULIA, is sitting beside her taking her pulse and temperature. Pacing off to the side is WILSON, a handsome black man; both appear youthful in their 50s or 60s. Lucy isn't quite awake and hasn't noticed Wilson yet.
The sun is shining, the windows are open, and the sheer white curtains are moving gently from a tropical breeze. Lucy's free hand absentmindedly goes to her head, and we see her react to the initial shock of learning she has no hair.
She jumps up to look in the full-length mirror across the room. After a few moments of examining her head, we see her become more interested in her body, pulling the nightgown tight around herself, admiring the curves.
[Lucy narrating] The first thing I remember is waking up without hair, but when I got to the mirror I was more shocked to see what my body looked like... Anyone could have shaved my head while I was sleeping, but where did this shapely figure come from? How long had it been since I'd looked in a mirror?
The scene is silent because of the narration. Wilson is still keeping a low profile, quietly in the background, but we see Julia asking questions. We don't see Lucy attempt to answer any yet. She's fascinated with her reflection.
I was thinking... Where were my glasses and why could I see so clearly? And then Julia, who seemed to be studying my body, asked if there was any chance I could be pregnant...
We see a split second memory flash of something that appears naked and sensual...
I wanted to say I had a vague feeling but no clear memory, except when I tried to talk, I had no voice.
We see her open her mouth as she examines herself in the mirror.
So here I was voluptuous, completely bald, tongue intact, but unable speak. And none of this made any sense to me.
We see Julia usher Lucy back to bed as the scene fades temporarily to Lucy on the porch, reminding us that she's very pregnant and still typing a letter.
Julia's question about pregnancy had instantly sparked a feeling in me. I didn't analyze it. I just knew I wanted you from that very moment. I didn't care about anything else, my hair or my shape or my voice. I believed in the possibility that you were real and inside me, and I focused on that.
Of course, they were very focused on how I got here, though Wilson remained so quiet that I hadn't noticed him at this point. Julia paused long enough in her questioning to say they'd found me on the beach the night before, naked and unconscious. No sign of anyone else... No boat... They carried me to the house...
As Lucy continues narrating, the scenes change to reflect her words, giving us a good look at the exterior of the compound. We learn that Lucy and Wilson grew up here together, and though he looks decades older, they're the same age. Eventually we're back in Lucy's room, where Wilson steps out of the shadows for the first time...
The amnesia, which is still improving everyday, was never complete. From the moment I looked into Wilson's eyes, I remembered our beautiful history. It was an amazing shock. I had no explanation for it -- we were the same age but no one could have guessed that. Still, in his face I could see the boy I loved to kiss as clearly as if it were yesterday.
Scene fades temporarily back to now, reminding us that Lucy's still on the porch typing a letter. Her hands move from the computer to her big belly as she pauses to reflect.
Remembering it now, I seemed to sense something old and painful coming from him. I had a vague feeling of regret, but this was easy to ignore as I considered the brand new possibility of you.
Scene fades back to Lucy's bedroom. Wilson has given her a pen and some paper. When she isn't writing, she relaxes with her hands on her belly which is quite flat. She appears to be very relaxed and happy; untroubled, in contrast to Wilson.
He was telling me that as far as he knew, I had been involved in some kind of experiment that resulted in an accident at the international space station -- more than 20 years ago.
I personally recalled then, as now, the launch of Messenger but not the experiment itself or any accident. His words were beyond my comprehension. He was saying that I had been lost in space. He said he learned of my "death" twenty-three years ago from my attorney who eventually sent him an enormous check. Everything my parents had left to me, I had left to him. This really shocked him at the time. He explained it to himself by remembering that I had no family, and that I'd always supported the work that goes on here at The Center.
We see Wilson settle Lucy under the covers and leave her alone. As Lucy narrates, the scenes dissolve into each other, demonstrating her words to us...
As soon as I was alone I immediately started praying... thanking God for you.
How do I express how odd for me this was?
I never paid very close attention to the bible stories your grandfather used to tell me. I loved him very much, but I couldn't pretend to believe. My faith was in science. He accepted me anyway. He never forced his beliefs on me so why was I praying now?
Honestly, it wasn't even as if I was asking God for anything. I only felt grateful, as if my life had just been saved. I couldn't even summon one solid memory that might have led to your conception -- all I had was a feeling... but it was a strong feeling.
I guess that's my first official message to you. Even though I'm consciously trying to steer way from giving you advice, some things need to be said: Believe in yourself. Have faith in your feelings, and express them freely as often as you can.
It was later that first day when I overheard Julia and Wilson discussing the problem I posed for them. I guess they weren't conscious of how easily the breeze carried their words toward me. But I know now that the opportunity to eavesdrop was brought to me courtesy of the invisible Spirit we all share.
Eventually the camera arrives at a balcony where we see Julia and Wilson sitting together.
Julia: What a coincidence that she shows up here now. My plans can't be changed. How do you think she got here?
Wilson: She can't remember. And I can't imagine. I didn't see evidence of any boat or plane.
Or any other craft. Do you suppose she's been somewhere in outer space all these years?
I'm sure there's a logical explanation, I just don't know what it is yet.
Her throat looks fine, so I can't understand the laryngitis. Her worst complaint is mild fatigue. But when you combine that with how she looks...
Let's just say, I saw TV coverage of what she looked like just before her mission and she doesn't appear to have aged at all. As a matter of fact, she looks better than any picture I've ever seen... She's always been skinny, but now she's ripe and luscious, wouldn't you say?
Wilson braces himself but says nothing. He knows what's coming. Julia is trying to keep her tone light and teasing but we begin to sense jealousy.
I've been around enough to know this is what impending motherhood looks like at the beginning stage. I'll bring a pregnancy test back with me.
If she is pregnant, it's the least of our problems. Where has she been for twenty years? How did she get here?
I don't know but, my concern is mainly for you. I have to go. I might be able to shorten my time away, but I'll be gone at least four days. There's no way for me to change it now.
There's no need to change it. I can take care of myself and her. I'm not an invalid.
I realize that. Don't get insulted. I just know that emotional turmoil does affect your condition. Let's face facts.
Emotional turmoil... Don't be so dramatic.
Scene fades to Julia leaving on a large yacht with unidentified other people. Lucy sees them kiss goodbye. It's affectionate but not romantic.
During a musical montage, we see images like snapshots from Lucy's memory. It's obvious that she and Wilson were teenagers in love. These fade into Lucy's current memory in which we see her appear to touch herself under the covers before she falls asleep.
The song and the scene fades to hours later, near dusk. Wilson comes in to talk and sits at the edge of her bed. We see him alternatingly speaking and then reading her responses, though the scene is silent and Lucy continues to narrate.
From everything Wilson told me, and from my youthful appearance compared to him, it was obvious that I had been elsewhere in the galaxy. The space-time continuum had been breached. I knew it, but not how. This is the subject Wilson wanted to probe.
Now please forgive the crude reference, but in the interest of documenting my actual memories, I was wishing he'd probe elsewhere.
Each time she hands him the clipboard, we see her touching him... his hand, his arm, his leg. The movements give the impression of restrained passion, as opposed to overt seduction. Wilson is trying not to react, but it's obvious that he's restraining himself.
He was confused, with many questions, understandably. But I had no answers. My strongest memory was of love for him. I felt a shared conviction that we were made for each other. This thought consumed me.
Looking back on it now, it's easy to see my selfishness. I felt a need for him that came from somewhere deep inside me. I allowed myself to act without regard for consequence.
As the scene evolves, we see Lucy become more aggressive and Wilson more unwilling to resist. They begin to make love as the scene fades to black. When we can see again, they are asleep together, tangled in the sheets. We seamlessly join Lucy in her dream...
Before we woke, I was transported to another place and time. He would call it a dream, though it supplied the answers to all his questions.