At Teldar Corporation's Project Desert Dome, designed to simulate laboratory conditions in space, a crew of six spend 18 days under communications blackout. At the monitoring station, the blackout comes to a close. The crew doesn't respond, and there's no sign of them on the monitors. A helicopter with a team goes to the desert base and they find five of crew dead. The sixth member, Sam Stone, charges out at them screaming. They manage to subdue and sedate him.
Several weeks later, Ray meets with Sam's wife Nancy. He points out that there was no way to break sequence and only Sam came out alive, and there's nothing he can do to help. Nancy figures that the board will send Sam to the DA, and goes to where Sam is sitting, staring off into space when he drops his tray of food. Ray look at his friend.
Later, a helicopter arrives at Desert Dome and the new six-man crew go in. The members are Captain Tim Greenwood, Dr. Deirdre Sagler, Dr. Steve Seidelman, Lt. Carl Wexler, Sam, and Ray posing as a financial investigator. The head of the project, Charlie, warns Ray that as far as the company is concerned, Sam went berserk and killed the others. He point out that the crew died during radio blackout, and Ray merely says that he'll see Charlie in a week.
The techs lock down the dome and then playback the mission. Ray assigns the schedule and Tim sarcastically warns the others not to ask Ray too many questions. When Tim says that they should just wait and let Sam kill them, Sam gets up, stares at him for a moment, puts on some music on the CD, and leaves.
Steve nervously goes down the hallway to his position, and hears someone moving behind him. He investigates and finds Sam staring off into space. Sam advances on him and walks past.
The techs review the schedule, including climate conditioning and a simulated electrical fire. They start by lowering the internal temperature.
In the compressor room, freon fumes leak from a pipe, hitting a circuit box and freezing the wiring.
In the cabin that he shares with Sam, Ray asks his friend what happened. He says that he doesn't know what Sam is thinking and asks if he'll be able to sleep with Sam there. Ray covers Sam with blankets, and Sam just stares at him.
Tim goes to the control room and calls the second tech, Fred. He says that there's something about Ray that doesn't feel right and asks Fred to run a check on him.
The next day, the techs raise the temperature. The ice on the circuitry melts, shorting it out. Sam walks down the hallway and hears the short. Meanwhile, the flames burn an overhead insulated pipe.
Tim goes to the control room and tells the others that Sam is gone, and Ray goes with Tim to find him.
Fred detects a temperature rise in the compressor room, indicating a real fire.
Sam enters the compressor room.
Ray and Tim reach the compressor room, see the smoke, and discover that the door is locked. They break it down and find Tim at the main fuse box. Ray has Tim get Sam out and the door closes behind them while Ray puts out the fire with an extinguisher. Sam grabs an axe while Tim tries to get the door open, and he breaks the lock. Once he puts the fire out, Ray comes out and Tim says that he's done. Sam gives Ray the axe and stares at him.
Tim reports back to Control, saying that Sam started the fire. Sam and Ray come in as Charlie says that they can't be sure that Sam is responsible. Tim figures that they're going down the same chain of events, and what happened the first time will happen to them as well. Charlie admits that they don't know.
That night, the fumes from the burning pipe insulation drift into the backup compressor. A light flashes on the oxygen backup system but no one notices. Fred is busy telling the third technician, Hal Nelson, how the fire started. Hal isn't convinced, but Fred points out that electrical malfunctions didn't kill five people.
As Ray sleeps, Sam gets out of his bunk and walks out. Ray wakes up, hears him, and realizes that his friend is gone. He follows him, and Sam comes up behind him, taps him on the shoulder, and acts normal. Sam explains that he's been trying to remember what happened, but all he remembers is Ray covering him over earlier. They go back to the control room and Sam tells the others that he doesn't remember what happened. He had just finished simulated EVA and was in the decompression chamber. Deidre asks Ray who he is, and Tim says that they should get out and cut their losses. Ray tells him that they have one more day, and everyone but Tim agrees.
The crew continue with their experiments, and Ray accidentally sets a lit Bunsen burner beneath a pipe in the lab. One of the white mice breathes the fumes from the burning insulation, and Ray sees the fire and puts it out. As the mice go berserk, Ray gasps for breath and then goes to the control room without seeing them. He joins the others in the control room and as they eat, Tim complains about the food. Ray snaps at him and accuses him of destroying the project. He goes at Tim with his knife and Wexler separate them. When Tim tries to leave, Ray continues taunting him and shoves him. Sam tells Ray to leave Tim alone, but the two men start fighting. Tim sucker-punches Ray and leaves.
The rats in the lab die.
Deidre takes Ray to his cabin, and he complains about a headache. He wonders why she's helping him, and Deirdre says that Ray is the one with good theories. She kisses him and then Ray passes out from the medicine she gave him.
The fumes from the compressor room pipe continue leaking into the backup compressor.
The next day, Charlie switches to a backup compressor per the original mission. The backup compressor comes on, which sucks in the fumes. Control initiates communicate blackout and Sam goes to the EVA. Tim points out that Sam was separate from the others, but Wexler figures that they know what to expect and can handle Sam.
Steve nervously starts rolling two dice and Tim snaps at him to stop. They argue and Tim walks off, and Deirdre walks out, distracted.
Ray goes to the lab and finds all of the lab animals dead. He examines the burnt insulation, PVC-15, and gets an oxygen mask.
In the decompression chamber, Sam is suiting up when he sees someone coming. He hallucinates Colonel Anderson from the original mission charging at him. It's Ray, who puts a spare oxygen mask on Sam. Ray explains that the compartment was sealed off, and Sam confirms that PVC-15 is a high-tech synthetic that they use throughout the dome. His friend explains about he burned the lab pipe, and Sam says that PVC-15 is used in the compressor room. Sam was in EVA so he wasn't affected until he left. The original crew killed each other under the effects of the gas. Sam figures that they have to switch the compressors.
In the compressor room, the piping in the backup compressor bursts into flame and emits more fumes.
Tim takes out a revolver.
Wexler stares at himself in his mirror and then punches the glass, screaming in fury.
In her cabin, Deirdre scrawls lipstick all over her mouth. She smiles as Steve comes in behind her.
Sam and Ray go to the control room and override the playback. The main compressor comes back online, and they split up to check on the others.
Deirdre stabs Steve with a nail file.
Tim shoots at Ray in the hallway, and Sam grabs the captain. Tim yanks off Sam's oxygen mask, and Ray knocks Tim out. Wexler comes at them, snarling, and Ray fights him hand-to-hand while trying to keep his mask on. Ray manages to knock Wexler out, and Deidre stabs at Ray with a knife.
When the blackout ends, the techs find no sign of the crew. When a team arrives to investigate and open the door, the crew walk out, Ray and Deidre carrying the wounded Steve. Ray tells the team that the problem was bad plumbing.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 16, 2018