Written by Jacquetta May
Directed by James Erskine
Produced by Richard Stokes and Sophie Fante
Music by Ben Foster and Murray Gold
Additional Music: David Bowie – Starman, Antony & The Johnsons – Hope There’s Someone
‘The speed of light is 299,792,458 metres per second. Pain travels through the body at 150ft per second, even a sneeze can reach 100mph. And as for life, well that just bloody whizzes by. So then, this is me, Eugene Jones!’
Eugene lies across the centre of the road, no injury visible. He opens his eyes and sees activity across the road near the watercourse and walks over. His face lights up as he sees the SUV. Jack and Gwen guesstimate the cause of death from the injuries of the body on the ground. Jack is convinced he’s been hit by a car and the injuries sustained when he smashed his face on the road. As Eugene nears the body he discovers that not only does the body look and dress like him, but that it IS him!
‘Am I dead?’
Eugene’s phone rings as it lies beside him on the grass. Toshiko picks it up and answers it. It’s Bronwen, Eugene’s mother. Gwen lets Bronwen know that something has happened and that she’ll be on her way. Jack points at the driver’s door, the fact that Gwen likely drove them down to the scene. Gwen insists, climbing into the back seat that Jack is driving them back. When Jack gets into the driver’s seat, Eugene notices quite by fright that he can’t see himself in the rear view mirror, then realises that if he is dead, then he would be invisible.
“Anything on his phone from today?” Calls Jack as Gwen searches through the images on Eugene’s phone.
“Just some pictures of some random shoes!” She replies thumbing through.
Eugene smiles. He’s where he always wanted to be, riding with the team, sitting beside Gwen Cooper. As the SUV heads off Eugene takes up the narration again.
‘Let’s back up a bit here, every story has got a beginning. I think mine began here...the final of the Inter School Maths Championship 1992. I used to be a Maths head. Binary coding, topology quadratics, I loved stuff like that. I was supposed to be really good at it. Dad took the day off work to come and see me but when the moment mattered – I blanked, let the side down, made a mess of it. Everyone blamed me for losing the final. But it must have been what happened afterwards that started this whole thing off.’
Eugene sits in the science lab as the rest of the kids head off home. He’s a face like a wet weekend and stares at the stuff on the shelves ahead of him not really paying attention to them. His teacher Mr Garrett notices him looking at the collection.
“Have you ever had a proper look at the Collection?” He asks opening the cupboard. The teacher tells him of the day he was playing golf and was stuck in the first bunker whacking away when something fell from the skies and landed by his feet. He told him that he picked up the object suspecting it was a golf ball and thinking nothing of it, put it in his pocket. He tells Eugene that when he got it home he had a proper look at it, and realised what it was. He handed it to Eugene. It was an eye. The teacher in a bid to cheer Eugene up whose curiosity had peaked at the mention of the object falling from the sky, said he could keep it. As the teacher returned to his own desk, Eugene’s father arrived.
“Where the bloody hell have you been?” Mr Jones snaps, calming only when he realises that the teacher is still in the room.
That night his parents argue, it seems apparent from the level of rowing that this is a regular occurrence with the pair. His father leaves the house that night and never returns. But Eugene isn’t bothered, as now he has the Eye.
‘As I got older I got interested in UFO’s, collected alien artefacts, watched the stars and waited alone for my alien. Then...I found you...Gwen Cooper. But I couldn’t quite make contact. I couldn’t get you interested in the eye, no matter how hard I tried.’
Eugene’s Mum is beside herself with grief, she can’t believe it is her boy that is dead, although his brother Terry seems nonplussed. He tells Gwen that their dad had left for some big corporation in America.
In Eugene’s room, Gwen is shown the collection of ‘alien artefacts’ on the shelves. Gwen picks up money that Eugene excitedly tries to tell her are authentic alien coins but Owen has found the best artefact.
“Hey look...rice crispies.” Owen says in mock excitement. “Man, there were some rogues out there.”
As the door rolls back at the base, Gwen enters with the boys carrying boxes from Eugene’s room. Gwen wants to know what Eugene has eaten, where he’s been, everything. She wants to know why he is dead and who has killed him. When Eugene enters he marvels at the base and more so over the “head of Vectra 11” and is stunned over the hand in a jar!
“What was he doing out on that road?” Gwen asks stowing the box onto the table.
“Oh fuck knows!” Replies Owen doing the same. “Categorizing chevrons – he was a geek!” As Gwen visits the body of Eugene under the sheet , Owen pipes up. “Gwen he had a bit of a thing about you and now you’re feeling guilty!”
“Sod off Owen!” She replies.
Taking it that he thought she meant about the body he replies: “You do it then.”
“I do it, the autopsy?”
“Yes! I’ve a stack of admin.”
Eugene is still in awe of the building and smiles. “I am in heaven.” Then frowns. “Or am I?” He wanders down to the autopsy room and sees Gwen open up the body bag and sees his naked body inside.
“Number 3 scalpel, start at the sternum, piece of piss!”
As Gwen attempts to make an incision, Eugene passes out. Gwen senses something and stops. Up at the top of the steps Ianto leans over the railings with information on the road accident.
“Ok, a red Vauxhall has been stopped outside Carmarthen, a very drunk guy admitted knocking a man over near Cardiff, fits Eugene’s description. Man says he thought he’d be ok, so he drove off!”
When Eugene awakes much later, he sees his naked body on the slab. Life is continuing without him. He revisits his home and sees his mum still unable to come to terms with his death, sobbing at the window and Eugene watching from the garden, unable to stop her tears.
“Do you think Eugene committed suicide?” Gwen asks at the table in the Conference room. Toshiko who is viewing a piece of junk in Jack’s hands replies that it was a road traffic accident, nothing more.
“There was no alien involved!”
“See I’m not so sure.” Gwen replies. “Because something seems completely odd, I mean, I just...feel that there’s something going on.” She says.
“Marvellous!” Owen replies. “Thank you for that Disney moment! Now who’s making the tea?”
A black and white film plays on the three monitor’s over Owen’s workstation. They’re overdue videos belonging to Eugene. Owen promises to return them, but Gwen decides to do it for him. She puts away the belongings from his clothes into the safe and puts the evidence bag with the phone and the videos into her bag, and tells Owen she is off to get some lunch. The video shop is shut, according to the guy in the cafe, the owner keeps his own hours. Gwen asks the cafe worker if he knew Eugene, despite having served Eugene with the same meal every day for years, he has no clue on the bloke which shocks Eugene. Gwen orders the same meal as Eugene has for the last few years and takes a seat by the window and reviews the phone’s contact list.
Eugene sits beside her, he can’t make out either what has happened but he knows someone who might be able to help them. He suggests she calls Gary; he’d know what to do. The call goes to voice mail. Gwen leaves a message. When the food arrives she is a little surprised, she hasn’t realised she’d ordered 2 eggs, ham and chips.
Gwen enters the video shop, a documentary about dinosaurs play on the television screen in amongst an array of assorted dvds covering wall space. As Gwen glances around the seemingly empty shop, the owner stands up from behind the counter, holding a mobile phone against his ear. He is a young bloke wearing a short sleeved polo shirt. Glancing back to the counter Gwen smiles a greeting. The shop owner replies with “Hi gorgeous” and closes his phone.
He asks Gwen if she wants to buy a dream, she replies that she only wants to return some overdue dvds from a person now deceased. Surprised that anyone would return the dvd’s he tots up the overdue amount to £34. He tells Gwen he knew Eugene as a bit of a dreamer, and wonderes if he ‘walked into traffic’. He tells her further that he hadn’t seen Eugene for a few months but continues slating Eugene by saying he had ‘loser written through him like a stick of rock.’
“Maybe he couldn’t live with his failure!” He tells Gwen.
Parsemore Telesales for kitchens, life insurance, barbecue sets. Gwen steps out of the lift with Eugene onto the soft carpeted busy office. Eugene used to work for the company. Gwen using the photo of the random shoes hopes to find a match as she walks up and down the line of numbered desks in search of someone who knew Eugene. Eugene himself remembers each and every person in the office. Eugene admits he hasn’t achieved much in his life as he’d been holding off until he found his ‘alien’, and had taken work at the telesales until he finally met the creature who owned the ‘eye’.
Identifying a Converse wearer, although not the same colour as on the phone, Gwen asks the owner of the shoes if he is Gary. The stocky built guy confirms it after taking water from the vending machine in the office. He appears quite nervous. Dressed smartly from the waist up he grips his plastic cup with both hands as Gwen enquires after Eugene.
He tells Gwen he hasn’t seen Eugene in a while. A young operator comes up handing him a card which he reads back out to him.
“Congratulations on your new job? He’s dead.”
“No..whose it for then?”
“His mum you idiot” When the operator asks him to rub out his message Gary tells him “it’s in biro!” As Gary storms off with the card, Gwen is called over by a young woman who wants to know if the stories are true, that Eugene was run over. Her name is Linda and she knew Eugene well. Linda explains to Gwen that she was herself a kitchens for life kind of sales person, whereas Eugene was just himself, and wasn’t a great sales person.
Gwen arranges to meet Linda for lunch to talk more as her boss Craig, whom she is in love with, wouldn’t appreciate her taking time out to talk during work time. Gwen, after enquiring where Gary’s desk was, makes her way over as Owen calls her Bluetooth.
At Gary’s desk she finds another flier for the Black Holes and the Uncertainty Principle, the same as was found in Eugene’s bedroom, folding it up to take with her, she gets up from the seat and leaves.
Gwen sits in the cafe at lunchtime and listens while Linda tells her about Eugene
Linda tells Gwen that she wanted to go to Australia and Eugene had suddenly become very excited. She’d told Eugene that she didn’t have the money, but Eugene had said he would get the money for her.
“So he was going to pay for a ticket to go to Australia with you, was he in love with you?”
“Oh no.” Linda laughs. “He was in love with someone who was unattainable!” She says, sadly. “He was just, trying to look after me. He said, don’t wait here wasting your life on something that may never happen.”
“Where was he going to get the money from?” Gwen pushes.
“Exactly. I said you haven’t had a new pair of socks in six years...” Linda replies, mirroring what Eugene has just said. He laughs.
At that moment Gwen’s phone rings. It’s the Hub and more importantly it’s Jack. But ignoring the phone in light of the information, she switches off the call and listens to Linda.
“He said?” She prompts.
“He said, ‘I’m going to sell it’. I said what, and he said, his alien artefact!”
“So?” Gwen and Eugene ask in unison.
“So he brought it into work.”
Eugene is sat at his desk in the telesales office, three people, Gary, Linda and the ‘congratulations in your new job’ guy look over his cubicle and as he sets the eye for all to see, one of them, the ‘good luck in your new job’ guy tells him it’s a plastic ball.
“It’s an alien body part” Eugene corrects him. “I’m going to sell it on eBay!”
Linda is less than impressed with the offer and tells him that she doubts the eye will fetch much more than the bus into town, dampening his spirits about it paying for her flight to Sydney.
Unperturbed by people’s reactions to his offer, Eugene goes ahead with the sale but the item sits there on eBay with no bids and no movement for some time. Then a bid goes in, £2.50. Then another and the bid has risen to £75. Interest rises in the office as the bids keep rising.
£3000 for an alien body part.
“Then one day it just...jumped.” On the screen it leapt from £3000 to £15,000 and Linda who had been watching at the side of Eugene’s desk is as surprised as he is at the sudden leap. “Oh my god Eugene, you’re rich!” She applauds.
“£15,005.50” Linda says winding up her story to Gwen in the cafe.
“Who bought it?” Gwen and Eugene ask.
“I’ve no idea.” Linda said regretfully. “Is it all my fault?”
“No it’s not.” Gwen replies as her phone rings again. It’s Bronwen, she has something for Gwen to see. It is Eugene’s Inter School’s championship Final. The little gathering in the lounge can hear Eugene’s father’s disappointment over the filming.
After the short film, Gwen learns that the ‘eye’ was given to Eugene by his science teacher as a consolation prize. Eugene had kept hold of it until he had sold it on eBay. Terry, Eugene’s brother informed Gwen that that was the night that their Dad had left, after the finals. He told her that their dad had left because Eugene was a failure, or at least that was what Eugene had told him. Terry is still bitter that his brother is dead, even more so that his Mam believes that their dad had gone to America, when in fact he works nights as a cashier in a garage on the Filey Road, Cardiff Terry goes on to inform them that Eugene had found that out a fortnight ago.
Gwen drives to the garage on the Filey road to inform Eugene’s Dad of the death of his son. Eugene, still bitter rides shotgun, but as Gwen unclips her seatbelt and attempts to exit the car, Eugene calls her back. Closing the door, she remains in the car, while rain falls on the garage forecourt. Eugene apologises as Gwen sits in the car, in silence. “It’s ok!” she replies, pulling on the seatbelt and pulling away.
Back at the Hub and it isn’t any better, Jack although not angry that Gwen had switched her phone off, can’t see how solving Eugene’s death, or why he was killed is helping Torchwood. As Jack walks off, Gwen calls him back.
“Eugene had an alien eye in his collection, and he sold it online.”
“You mean like a sixth eye?” He asks stepping off the walkway and walks towards her. “A dogon sixth eye?” He asks, folding his arms.
“Maybe.” Gwen replies.
“It’s possible. There was a trade in them. Who’s got it?”
“I don’t know but I’ve nearly tracked it down.” Gwen tells him. “What exactly is a sixth eye?”
“It’s the one at the back, let’s you see behind you, where you’ve been, it kind of puts things into perspective. It’s useful, slightly terrifying, that’s why they were in demand.”
“See I told you!” Eugene’s smile widens, so it was real.
“I can get it for you.” Gwen tells Jack.
“My alien, see, see?” Eugene is ecstatic.
“Ok, you’ve got the weekend, but keep your phone on.” Jack insists walking off again.
Gwen drives out to the Black Hole talk in a newer car to the one she used on the road trip. At the top of the stairs in the museum where the talk is taking place, Gwen locates Gary, who when he realises just who has called his name, legs it, returning a moment or two later and confesses that it was he and a few random aliases who had bid for the eye pushing the price up and up. But even he was surprised when the bids rose even further.
Gary admits that he met Eugene on the day he died, on the day Eugene was going to meet his ‘alien’ who he was convinced had bought the eye on Ebay and was coming to collect. Gwen pulls out Eugene’s phone and brings up the photos of the random shoes, she hands it to Gary to identify, but he sees them only as random shoes. He says that Eugene was secretive, they may not have met up along the M48, the meeting might have taken place in Splott, but Gary is hiding something.
In the hotel bedroom Gwen removes Eugene’s keys from the plastic evidence bag, there is a crumpled piece of paper with the Happy Cook logo caught in it. As Eugene begins to remember portions of the events, he stops when he realises how close to the end they were. He didn’t want Gwen to find out, he didn’t want this moment to end, and proclaims his love to her. Gwen glances up as if she’d heard his words and gets off the bed and stares out of the window, so close to Eugene yet so far apart!
The following morning they awake and drive to .....the Happy Cook. Entering the Happy Cook Eugene begins to remember the last time he was there. He remembers the layout and he remembers who he was seeing, it was...Gary and the video shop owner. It all becomes clear.
Eugene enters the Happy Cook alone, he sees his friends sitting in a booth by the window overlooking the busy motorway. Eugene isn’t sure why they are there but when informing them that he is meeting his alien, Josh tells him, that they were the aliens and had bought the eye themselves. However, when Eugene removes the ‘merchandise’ from his inside pocket to give to the lads, it isn’t £15,005.50 he is receiving, but £34.
Disgusted, Eugene refuses to give them the eye, and pulls out his phone to make a call, but as the waitress arrives with his banana milkshake he lowers the phone and takes random photos instead of dialling the number. Josh explains that the guy who had placed the bid was not a green eyed alien
“I checked the bid history; Mr. C. Blackstaff is a collector of alien ephemera and Nazi memorabilia. Also Beanie Babies. Teeny bit cuckoo, but endearingly rich.”
After Josh and Gary had upped the bid with their £5.50 the bidding had gone dry. And given that the auction ended with their bid, the eye according to Josh, belongs to them, and Josh is determined to try again with the eBay auction. He makes a grab of the eye knocking it out of Eugene’s hand. The eye rolls away and both men go after it, tussling on the floor to reach it, but the waitress beats them to it. She doesn’t hold it for long, as Josh grabs it from her and makes for the door just as Eugene rugby tackles him to the ground and wrestles the eye off him. Eugene grabs the eye, and swallows it. Incensed, Josh tries the Heimlich manoeuvre ordering Gary to fetch the banana milkshake in a bid to bring up the eye. But as Eugene wriggles free, wearing a portion of the milkshake down his front, Josh punches him, just before Eugene runs from the Happy Cook.
Back to present day and Eugene sees his two ‘mates’ enter the Happy Cook. Josh walks towards Jen the waitress to inform her to say nothing about the events regarding the other day when they were causing a disturbance, as Gary clocks Gwen behind some artificial foliage. Josh takes a minute to think about it before making a run for the door, but Gary trips him up, sending him and a diner’s meal onto the ground.
Gwen learns that the two lads gave chase across the car park in pursuit of Eugene and the swallowed ‘eye’, but Eugene was a fast runner and Josh had new shoes and was complaining a lot.
Gwen leaves Josh and Gary at the table and calls directory enquiries for the number of the garage in Filey Road, where she contacts Mr Jones with the sad news, while Eugene weighs up life.
“The way humanity whizzes by in a frenzy; burgers and chips, bank holiday fun, burst tyres and screaming kids, sudden heart attacks... Apart from the buzzing in my head where Josh whacked me I was good. I was running across a field on a Saturday morning with the smell of exhaust fumes and banana milkshake. Slight nausea as heart was beating too fast as I wasn’t that fit. All the stuff that tells you, you’re alive.”
Eugene stands in the road, unaware of the close proximity of the red car behind him. He’s hit and thrown over the bonnet and roof and rolls off onto the side of the road into the grass verge. Dead.
“By rights I should be so pissed off. My mates had cheated on me and I didn’t get to meet any aliens, but I swallowed the eye at the Happy Cook. I was given a chance to look back on my life and see it for what it really was...”
The day of the funeral, a small congregation gather to sing hymns and read eulogies. Eugene is also there, finally meeting his dad who sits at the front with his family. Bronwen, emotional and clutching her speech can’t utter a word, and is guided back to her seat by her ex husband, who returns to stand facing the small congregation.
“Eugene, he was a good boy, but somehow things went wrong. I wasn’t there. I wish I could have seen him before...” His father after a brief pause begins a rendition of ‘Oh Danny Boy’ just before the coffin was lowered to its final destination.
“Dad made a mess of things and went away and that’s a shame, really, a terrible pity, because we missed each other completely.”
Outside the crematorium Gwen waits for the ashes to be collected and the recovery of the eye. Eugene waits with her.
“You know, 28 is one of those perfect numbers. It’s equal to the sum of its devises. I’m 28...I was 28. I think I’m going to have to go soon Gwen.” Eugene said as time wore on while they both waited for the eye.
“Oh god.” Gwen sighed.
“Yeah! Also, 28 centimetres per second is the top speed of a lone lobster.” Eugene calls as the back door of the crematorium opens and the attendant hands Gwen a brown paper bag containing the eye.
Gwen takes the long walk up the street towards Eugene’s house, clutching the bag. Eugene himself is curious as to why he is still around now that he no longer has the eye. The SUV drives up to meet them, pulling in at the side of the road.
“I’m impressed.” Jack exclaims as he holds up the eye to view closer. Owen points out that they still need to run tests on it.
A taxi pulled up, Gwen asks Jack to give her a few minutes. Eugene’s dad steps from the taxi and makes his way towards his wife and young son Terry.
“In an average lifetime a human heart will beat two billion times, you’ll produce over 8 gallons of saliva and grow 350 miles of hair.”
A jeep tears around the corner at speed as Gwen steps off the kerb without looking either way.
“You’ll eat the equivalent in weight of six elephants. Oh isn’t life amazing?”
The vehicle speeds past Jack and Toshiko as they wait outside the SUV. Eugene sees the vehicle careering towards Gwen and rushes across the road to her aid, shouting her name he pushes her out of the way and falls to the pavement with her. Suddenly everyone can see him.
Gwen can’t quite believe it, she can physically touch Eugene, she can feel his weight against her leg. And when he stands up he can see his dad staring back at him, speaking his name. He hands the dogon eye to Gwen that lies on the rim of the drainage as a bright light shines around Eugene. He bids her goodbye. Gwen calls him back and stares after him with the team.
“The average life is full of near misses and absolute hits, of great love and small disasters. It’s made up of banana milkshakes, loft installations and random shoes. It’s dead ordinary and truly truly amazing. What you’ve got to realise is it’s all here now, so breathe deep and swallow it whole, because take it from me, life just whizzes by and then all of a sudden its......”
©BBC Torchwood 2006