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19. The Signalman

Season: 1
First Air Date: 06 September 1996 (Showtime)
Alternate Title(s): Im Tunnel der Verdammten (German)
L'aiguilleur (French)
MGM/Showtime Photos: see Season One photos page
After a dream, Alex seeks out an old acquaintance of hers from college who, up until recently, totally disbelieved in anything he couldn't scientifically prove.
Derek de Lint

"Dr. Derek Rayne, Ph D"

Helen Shaver "Dr. Rachel Corrigan, MD"
Martin Cummins "Nick Boyle"
Robbi Chong "Alexandra (Alex) Moreau"
Guest Actors


Kevin Kilner "David Praeger"
Kim Kondrashoff "The Signalman/Douglas Praeger"
Peter Bryant "Sergeant Mapes"
Co-Executive Producer -
Co-Executive Producer -
Producer Brent Karl Clackson
Writer George Geiger
Director Brenton Spencer
This description by: Emmalee (1996)


Powder Wash Station, Colorado (Night)
Army truck driving along dirt road. Praeger telling grunts about his contract to survey the train tracks and investigate the magnetic anomalies at Powder Wash Station. Truck stops and they begin to unload. Praeger starts to put his gear in station, while two army guys go ahead into tunnel cut into the mountain. When Praeger enters the station he hears the ancient telegraph clicking. He hears bells ring, then the sound of a train, and screams. The red light next to the tracks is flashing. He runs toward the tunnel, shouting for the army men. He is stopped by a man (The Signalman) dressed in turn-of-the-century railroad clothing. The Signalman says "David, can you hear me? You have to throw the switch!" He then disappears into the tunnel. Praeger follows, looking for army men. An electrical wire shorts out and lands on the tracks. One of the army men is caught by the current. Praeger asks Mapes if he saw the man enter the tunnel. Mapes retorts that he saw no one, and orders Praeger to radio for help.

San Francisco Legacy House - Alex's Room (Night)
Alex is dreaming. Flashes of a train, sees an old watch. Accompanied bysounds of a train, and a man shouting. Alex wakes abruptly and turns onthe light. Records what she saw in her dream in her journal on bedside table. Gets up and goes to Data Center. Does a search for David Praeger.

San Francisco Legacy House - Library (Day)
Derek picks up a table, telling the others that the University of Houstonis faxing a translation of the Mayan Beating Heart Ritual and says that the Mexico City House will handle it from then on. Derek asks what else is going on. Alex states that the army is doing something interesting in Colorado, involving Dr. David Praeger. Derek replies "so you two buried the hatchet?" Alex says no. Tells them that Praeger is serving as a consultant to the Powder Wash project (an incinerator used for burning chemical weapons from the Cold War). Nick wonders what a psychic debunker like Praeger is involved with nerve gas. Alex says she dreamed that he is in jeopardy and if the army brought him in to debunk some psychic event, she had better go check it out, since Powder Wash opens in three days. Derek tells her to go.

Powder Wash Station (Day)
Alex drives up to station. Gets out and calls for David, finally spotting him working on some equipment. She startles him. He is surprised to see her, since the last time they met was in a study group at Loyola University in New Orleans. The enter station. She tells him she left in 1992 and lives in San Francisco now. He asks why she is there. She asks him about Powder Wash. He tells her the station was built in 1881 and was abandoned three years later. The red light flashes and bell rings, but only Praeger seems aware of them. He tells Alex he is measuring magnetic fields, since they seem to fluctuate wildly here. He hears the bell again, but Alex does not. He asks her if she heard it. She says no. The light flashes and bell rings. Praeger runs outside and asks Alex what she sees. She says she sees the tunnel. He tells her he sees a man walking out of the tunnel. A railroad employee with a bloody face, who tells him to throw the switch, then returns to the tunnel. Praeger tells Alex all this.

San Francisco Legacy House - Library (Day)
Derek is talking to Rachel. Tells her Alex called and that Praeger keepsseeing an injured man appear and disappear. He compares it to the Chronicle of Avaristis(?). Before the city burned, a crisis apparition appeared to give warning to one person. That fire of the Holy City killed 7,000. He points out that Powder Wash is just 100 miles away from Denver and a cloud of gas could kill seven million. Not really!

Powder Wash Station (Night)
Praeger shows Alex his sketch of the Signalman. She asks him why he is staying. He says he finally has found a ghost he can't disprove. He mentions that he is now drinking like a fish. There is no electrical current to the telegraph key he has heard working. Red light is flashing and bell is ringing. Praeger runs out of building. The Signalman is shouting, "David, can you hear me? Throw the switch. It's coming, David, you have to make it right." Alex sees nothing. Praeger sees army ghosts run out of tunnel shouting "There he is! He's the one! Shoot him! " Praeger turns and runs, but after the shot, he collapses to the ground. Alex runs to him.

Clinic (Day)
Alex comments that Praeger looks better. Praeger says his tests show no physical damage, but it felt like he had been shot. Alex says she believes him. Praeger thinks he is losing it. Alex wonders why the army closed the tunnel in 1884.

San Francisco Legacy House - Data Center (Day)
Nick tells Rachel that Derek left for Colorado, since he was worried about Alex. They discuss how the nerve gas will travel by train to the incinerator on the old Northern Union track and the first train is in two days. Nick shows Rachel a map of the tracks, with flags marking sites of "incidents." Derek wants them to find out who and why, but the army info is classified. Nick says the report on why the tunnel was closed was made top secret over 100 years ago. Rachel asks him if he can get the info.

Clinic (Day)
Praeger wakes up and washes his face. When he looks in the mirror, he sees the Signalman, He touches the mirror. When he withdraws his hand, itis covered in blood.

Powder Wash Station (Day)
Alex arrives with groceries. She hears footsteps and discovers Derek. She is annoyed because she thinks he doesn't think she can handle the assignment. He placates her. Alex picks up a whiskey bottle from the ground and says Praeger found it when cleaning up the station. Derek says it looks genuine. Derek then quotes Sherlock Holmes, "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Derek then digs a bullet out of the wall of the station, but it is too old to be from the night before. When Alex takes the bullet from Derek, she has a traumatic vision of the train crash. Derek asks what she saw. Alex said she could taste whiskey and that whiskey is part of what the Signalman is trying to warn them about.

Clinic (Day)
Alex and Derek discover Praeger checked out of the hospital. Alex decides they should check bars.

Bar (Day)
Praeger drinking at a bar and has minor confrontation with Mapes. Alex and Derek remove him from the bar. Derek introduces himself. Alex tells him she also saw his visions. Derek tells Praeger he must go back. Praeger is freaked out by the bells on the pinball machine. They leave.

Powder Wash Station (Day)
Derek talking to Rachel and Nick by phone. Asks if lead content in whiskey could contribute to problem. Rachel says no, that takes years. He asks for any info they can get on the station.

Alex and Praeger walking. She asks him if anyone in his family ever had a similar encounter. Praeger says his mother died when he was 2, so he doesn't know about her family. He mentions his great-grandfather Douglas Praeger was buried in Denver. He comments that it is like he was drawn there for a special reason. He asks her what she thinks about free will and destiny. Alex replies she says it is difficult to accept that we don't have free will. Praeger says he believes we do, but that he made a number of decisions that led him here. They enter station. Praeger discovers a loose floorboard and finds an old pocket watch. He freezes. He has a vision of the station as it was. He is the station manager and is telling everyone to get ready to board the train. Everyone is dressed in old clothes. He tells them the train is coming from Limon. (Alex sees him doing everything he is doing in his vision, but in current dress.) He opens a secret compartment and takes a drink from a pretend whiskey bottle.

Bar (Day)
Derek tells Alex the army has search parties looking for Praeger. The remains have been removed and the wall repaired, She discovers the journal Praeger found is Stationmaster Douglas Praeger's journal, dated May 10, 1884. He talks of warning them about a possible accident. Says he started drinking to block out how bad it (the accident) will be. Alex guesses they might find Praeger in Limon. Derek shows her the classified report he got from Nick. A troop train's brakes failed and crashed in the tunnel on July 7, 1884, killing 42 men. Army covered it up. Praeger is trying to warn them about a new crisis.

San Francisco Legacy House - Data Center (Night)
Nick and Rachel discuss how incidents have been spreading out from the crash location. Rachel asks how much vengeance if needed for 100 years of torment.

Road (Day)
Alex and Derek are in a car looking for Praeger. The stop and get out. Derek quotes his father, "I do not believe in a fate that falls on man however they act, but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act." They spot Praeger walking along tracks. He points out the track has a 6 percent downgrade slope toward the tunnel. He says a 6 percent downgrade doubles a train's momentum every mile. The army believes their trains can make the curve, but old steam engines would overheat. He says modern trains can make the bend in the tunnel, if their brakes work. Praeger says the men who were killed want payback. He found a letter in the station to Douglas Praeger's widow granting her a hardship allowance since he was killed on the job. Shot by survivors of the crash. Praeger says, "can't you hear the train?" He says the spirits will destroy it.

Powder Wash Station
Alex and Derek are stopped by a barricade at the station. Praeger is asleep in back seat. They tell Mapes they must stop the train. He says there is no need to worry and tells them to leave.

Train (Day)
They hear the engineer say the train just left Limon and has an ETA of 5 minutes to tunnel.

Powder Wash Station (Day)
Alex and Derek enter the station. Mapes makes phone call and tells them all is secure. Alex tells him to call back and stop train. He says the train is going through.

Car (Day)
Praeger wakes up.

Train (Day)
Engineer is panicking. Says they are picking up speed and the brakes are failing.

Powder Wash Station (Day)
Derek asks Mapes how he knows they aren't terrorists.

Car (Day)
Praeger gets out of car.

Powder Wash Station (Day)
The old telegraph starts up. Everyone hears it. Derek asks Mapes to translate Morse code. Mapes says it is talking about a runaway. Then he sees it isn't hooked up. Alex tells him the dead soldiers are looking for revenge.

Praeger walks towards the track switch and tries to move it in order to switch the runaway train to other tracks. Alex tells him it is no use. He falls and comments that he tastes whiskey. Armed soldiers line up in front of the tunnel. Praeger comments that the Signalman was drunk. (Notice that Praeger's head injury is identical to that of the Signalman.) The Signalman appears and tells Praeger to throw the switch. Praeger asks what should he do? Alex begs him to leave the tracks. He tells her he has to do this. Derek yells at Alex to get away. Praeger walks down the tracks toward the oncoming train. Mapes orders the soldiers to shoot Praeger. They do. When the train hits Praeger, he vanishes and the brakes suddenly work. Derek finds a piece of old uniform on front of the train. Derek tells them it was a Praeger, but not necessarily David. Derek tells Alex he is sorry, that it's their fate, and that they had no choice.

Description last revised: 07 December 1996