Pilot Joseph Reardon flies a spaceship alone above Earth. The ship passes through a warp and Joseph requests a reentry pattern from project control. He gets no response and lands the ship manually. The ship touches down on a barren landscape and Joseph sees a building nearby. He gets out, gun drawn, and explores the landscape. A mutated humanoid secretly observes him and then steps out and greets the astronaut. He says that they're on Earth and tells Joseph that no one has left or returned to Earth in two hundred years. When Joseph says that he left Earth in 1963, the mutant tells him that the year is 2148. Joseph doesn't believe it, and the mutant--Andro--speculates that Joseph passed through a "time convulsion" and ended up in the future. Andro says that the planet was decimated by an extraterrestrial microbe was developed and corrupted by a biologist, Bertram Cabot Jr., for his own reasons. They have memorized Bertram's life and the name of his mother, Noelle. Bertram Jr. didn't anticipate the side effects and the microbe altered the genetic structure of humanity.
Andro takes Joseph into the building and shows him the vast library that he has accumulated. The mutant talks of the authors' works and says that there is no hope. Joseph doesn't believe it, and Andro says that the only positive cure was preventative medicine. Man was too busy conducting atomic war to apply the medicine. Joseph figures that he can go back through the time warp and tells them what is coming. Andro suggests that he go with Joseph and explains that he can change his appearance through hypnotic suggestion. Joseph tells him that they have to see Andro exactly as he is to make them believe them.
Joseph takes the ship to the coordinates where the convulsion happened. He puts the ship on autopilot and braces himself, and considers the course of history if Bertram Jr. had never been born. The ship enters the warp and Joseph realizes that he won't make it through because he's dying. Andro wonders what he can do on his own, and Joseph tells him to find Bertram and kill him before disappearing. The ship lands on Earth 1963 and Andro looks out at a woman taking a boat along a river. Andro gets out and watches as the woman takes the boat ashore. She spreads out a blanket and sits down to read and eat from her picnic basket. The woman examines a frog that she's caught, and then hears Andro moving in the brush. She catches a glimpse of his mutated figures, screams, and runs off. Andro realizes that his appearance frightened her and goes to the woman's discarded book. He looks at the frog and strokes it gently, and then releases it into the river.
The woman returns home and Andro follows her. He comes in and hypnotically projects an illusion of a human appearance. The woman finds him familiar and Andro says that she didn't see him the way that he wanted her to. When he realizes that he's in a boarding house, the woman says that the landlady--Mrs. McCluskey--will soon be there and explains that she lives there. McCluskey comes in and Andro says that he's looking for lodging. She takes him to a room and notes that he has no baggage, and Andro says that it will come later. He claims that he's come from England and is an archaeologist. He pays her for the room using imaginary bills and hypnotizes McCluskey into believing that they're real. Andro asks about Bertram Jr. and McCluskey says that he lived there a year ago and has been in the Army since November. She says that she should have asked the woman: Noelle Anderson, the girl downstairs. Bertram and Noelle are going to be married that weekend, and Andro tells her that he wants to talk to Bertram about his future. Once he's alone, Andro drops his illusion, checks the room, looks at his mutated features in the mirror... and puts away Joseph's gun.
McCluskey comes in with towels, screams, and faints. Noelle comes to investigate and Andro hypnotically reestablish his human appearance. The landlady wakes up and says that she's fine, and stares at Andro. She figures that she saw a shadow and panicked, and says that no one could be what she thought she saw.
Later, Andro finds Noelle brushing her hair out of nervous habit. She says that she had a hallucination in the woods that afternoon and figures that it's a vision brought on by her fear of wedding. Noelle says that Bertram lives life instead of playing at it, and then says that Bertram's father name is Arnold. Andro realizes that they're talking about Bertram Jr.'s father and that he is too early. He mutters that Noelle will be Bertram Jr.'s mother.
The next day, Bertram Sr. comes to the boarding house to find Noelle. While he waits for Noelle to come down, Andro approaches him and talks about what makes a soldier brave. Bertram says that it's learning to fight before attacked, and Andro asks him if he would destroy all the children of another land to save his own child. He asks Bertram if he loves Noelle, and Andro tells him that it doesn't matter. He tells Bertram not to marry Noelle or he'll destroy her. Bertram says that his personal life is none of Andro's business, and Andro tells him that he has to destroy one child to save the children of the future. The soldier tells Andro to stay away from Noelle, and Andro warns that he'll have no choice if Bertram tries to marry Noelle. Noelle comes out and leaves with Bertram, and Andro watches them go.
Later, Noelle and Bertram walk by the river and argue about Andro. Once they're done, Bertram says that he has to go to the school to arrange his post-grad courses. Noelle assures him that she still wants to marry him, and Bertram tells her that he'll try to hurry back. Once he leaves, Andro approaches Noelle and says that he followed her. She tells him that she felt him, and Andro sits with her. Noelle asks who he is, and Andro kisses her. He tells her that he can't let her marry Bertram. Bertram comes back and sees Andro as he really is for a moment before the illusion establishes itself in his mind. He tells Noelle to go to the house, and then tells Andro that they're going to be married and there's nothing Andro can do to stop it. Andro insists that he will have to do anything to stop it and angrily says that he doesn't want to kill Bertram and Noelle. Bertram walks away and Andro picks up the flower that Noelle has discarded it and studies it.
The church bells ring and Andro lies on his bed, contemplating the gun. He finally throws it at the mirror in frustration.
In the house's parlor, Noelle and Bertram prepare to marry. Andro comes in and aims the gun at Bertram. McCluskey sees him and screams, and the male guests jump Bertram. He loses control of his mental illusion and runs outside, and Noelle runs after him.
Andro goes to the river and Noelle follows him, calling his name. The mutant reestablishes his mental illusion and tells Noelle to go away. She says that she wanted to see him, and saw his moment of violence pass. Andro explains that he lost control, and Noelle says that she didn't see anything except that Andro couldn't bear to see her marry Bertram. She asks what Andro really is, and Andro says that he's ugly. Noelle tells him that there's no ugliness in him, in his heart or his soul or his face. He explains that his face is a mask to cover a corrupted surface. Andro tells Noelle that he's the hallucination she saw in the woods and tells her to go back to her wedding. Noelle says that there isn't going to be a marriage and she never loved Bertram, and doesn't think that she ever did. Andro figures that they can't change what is meant to be and says that he has to go back to where he belongs. Noelle asks him to take her with him, saying that she loves and needs him. Andro insists that they can't love each other because there's no hope for them and they can't change destiny.
The mutant talks about the future and how it's a dark and empty road filled with misery and mourning. He says that she will help make it and he tried to keep her from bearing a child that would cause the world's end. Noelle tells him that she'll never have that child and the world will be different, but Andro figures that Noelle and Bertram will eventually meet, marry, and have that child unless she dies. The woman figures that they can change destiny if she goes with him to the future. Andro stares at her in shock and then they kiss.
Bertram and his friends scour the woods for Andro.
Andro leads Noelle to the spaceship. Bertram and the others spot them and move in, firing their guns. The couple enter the spaceship and Andro takes it up. Bertram and his friends arrive and Bertram stares at Noelle's discarded wedding veil.
The spaceship enters the warp and Andro convulses in pain. He tells Noelle that now that they've changed time, his world will never come and everything will be different... and he was never born. Andro disappears, leaving Noelle stranded in space and time.
Written by Gadfly on Mar 3, 2019