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Dwellers in Silence

Dimension X

Dwellers in Silence

Jul 19 1951



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

HOST

NBC ANNCR (1 line)


CAPTAIN PARSONS

DR. EVANS

WILLIAMS, a young man

DR. HATHAWAY, an old man

ALICE HATHAWAY, his young wife

JOHN HATHAWAY, his son, age twenty-three


NOTE: X MINUS ONE aired another version of this play on Nov 10 1955. This transcript includes some material from the '55 broadcast in brackets.




MUSIC: OMINOUS RUMBLE 


ANNOUNCER: Adventures in Time and Space, told in Future Tense. 


MUSIC: OMINOUS RUMBLE CLIMAXES WITH CYMBAL CRASH


ANNOUNCER: (HEAVY ECHO) Dimension X-x-x-x-x- (TRAILS OFF) 


MUSIC: OMINOUS FUTURISTIC PERCUSSION ... THEN IN BG


HOST: The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction, bring you - DIMENSION X. 


MUSIC: WEIRD ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


HOST: Twenty years had passed since the last of the giant migration ships had crashed to the surface of Mars bearing its pitiful handful of survivors of the Earth wars. Twenty years of scratching at the stubborn Martian soil. Twenty years of trying to devise new solar engines that would use the strange fuel they found on Mars. Twenty years of longing, of turning eyes toward the green Earth as it hung on the horizon like a beckoning light. And now it was done, and the first new ship, built of shining Martian chromaton, had lifted bravely toward home with three men locked in its metal belly. Would they return to an Earth made barren by cosmic dust? To a blackened radioactive hell? Or would they find intelligence still alive on the scourged planet? What had twenty years of death and radioactivity done to our belovèd Earth?


MUSIC: UP AND OUT, CROSSFADING WITH--


SFX: SPACESHIP BACKGROUND ... ALARM HORN WAILS BRIEFLY


EVANS: That's it, Captain! We've intersected the course vector.


CAPTAIN: Williams?


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Yes, sir?


CAPTAIN: Prepare for deceleration.


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Forward fission ready, Captain.


CAPTAIN: Readouts, Evans.


EVANS: We'll enter the gravitational field of the Earth in exactly ten seconds. Nine. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.


CAPTAIN: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) Fire Two and Four.


SFX: TWO ROCKETS FIRE


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Two and Four.


CAPTAIN: What's our momentum, Evans?


EVANS: Negative three.


CAPTAIN: Fire One.


SFX: ROCKET FIRES


WILLIAMS: (OFF) One.


EVANS: Negative four now.


CAPTAIN: Steady as she goes. (BEAT, TO EVANS) How are we?


EVANS: On parabola now. If we can hold, we should breach the heavy-side layer somewhere north of what used to be Murmansk.


CAPTAIN: Let's have a look at her. Visor, please.


WILLIAMS: (CLOSER NOW) Yes, sir.


SFX: CLICK! OF SWITCH


EVANS: (BEAT, WARMLY) Mother Earth.


CAPTAIN: (MOVED, SLOWLY) Twenty years. We're going home, Evans. We're going home.


WILLIAMS: (SHARPLY) Home to what, Captain? Home to a burned-out radioactive planet that is incapable of supporting human life?


CAPTAIN: Evans and I don't agree with that, Williams. We think the Earth is ready for us again, that she'll give us another chance.


WILLIAMS: I'm sorry, Captain, but I was born and brought up on Mars under the new central government. We younger men disagree with you about migrating back to Earth. For us, Mars is home.


CAPTAIN: Well, we'll see.


EVANS: If there is some form of life on Earth, we'll find out soon enough.


CAPTAIN: (PORTENTOUSLY) Williams, head for New York.


MUSIC

& SFX: TRANSITION ... FOR A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD ... THEN SPACESHIP BACKGROUND


EVANS: There it is, Captain. You can barely see the top of the Atomic Trades Building in the twilight. They never finished building it.


CAPTAIN: Dark as a tomb. (BEAT, AN ORDER) Slow to cruising speed.


SFX: BUZZ! BUZZ! OF BUZZER ... SHIP SLOWS


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Cruising speed.


EVANS: It begins to look as if Williams is right, Captain. Not a sign of life on four continents.


CAPTAIN: (DISCOURAGED) Ah, we'll make a radiation check and then head back for Mars.


WILLIAMS: (OFF, SMUG) Do you agree with me, gentlemen? That, for all practical purposes, the planet is dead?


CAPTAIN: (ANNOYED) It's still my--


EVANS: Captain!


CAPTAIN: What is it?


EVANS: Am I going out of my mind? Look out that way, to the west. Could that be--?


CAPTAIN: By heaven, it is! Those are lights! Turn the ship!


SFX: BUZZ! BUZZ! OF BUZZER ... SHIP TURNS


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Heading west-southwest.


CAPTAIN: Full speed!


SFX: HIGH-PITCHED BUZZ! OF ANOTHER BUZZER ... SHIP SPEEDS UP


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Full speed.


EVANS: They are lights. Captain, it's a city -- a whole blasted city -- lit up like a Christmas tree. (TRIUMPHANTLY) Well, what do you think of your dead planet now, Williams?


WILLIAMS: (OFF, ARCHLY) We shall see, Evans. Remember, the commission wants evidence of life "as we know it."


CAPTAIN: Decelerate to negative five. We're gonna take her down. There's an open area just on the edge of the city.


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Yes, sir.


CAPTAIN: Hold on, gentlemen. We're about to land.


MUSIC

& SFX: TRANSITION ... FOR A SPACESHIP LANDING ... THEN LANDING GEAR LOWERS


WILLIAMS: (OFF) Landing jacks are down, sir.


CAPTAIN: Open the airlock.


SFX: AIRLOCK UNLOCKS ... INNER DOOR SLIDES OPEN ... ASTRONAUTS' STEPS INTO AIRLOCK ... SLIGHT ECHO ON VOICES


CAPTAIN: Close.


SFX: INNER DOOR SLIDES SHUTS


CAPTAIN: All right, gentlemen. Before we go out; security at all times. Williams, you have the blast gun?


WILLIAMS: I have it.


CAPTAIN: If anyone becomes separated, fire a shot and make for the ship. How's the radiation, Evans?


EVANS: Safe enough, so far. This seems to be a light area.


CAPTAIN: Very well. Open the lock.


SFX: OUTER DOOR UNLOCKS AND SLIDES OPEN


MUSIC: PORTENTOUS BRIDGE


SFX: EERIE WIND HOWLS, CONTINUES IN BG ... ASTRONAUTS' STEPS AS THEY WALK DOWN A STREET, IN BG


EVANS: (DISHEARTENED) Oh, it's unbelievable. We've been walking for hours now and not a soul to be seen.


CAPTAIN: There must be someone. How do you explain the lights?


[EVANS: Unless they've been burning like this for twenty years.


CAPTAIN: Ah, impossible.]


EVANS: I don't know. (READS A SIGN) "Municipal Building." (TO CAPTAIN) Shall we have a look here, sir? Possibly the records might contain some clue.


CAPTAIN: Good idea. Keep your weapons ready.


SFX: ASTRONAUTS WALK UP STEPS TO BUILDING ... DOOR OPENS


CAPTAIN: Hm, this door is in good working order. Almost as if it had been oiled recently.


SFX: DOOR CLOSES ... ASTRONAUTS WALK THROUGH BUILDING ... SLIGHT ECHO ON VOICES


CAPTAIN: Long corridor; lights blazing in every office. Williams, stand watch here in the corridor. Fire a blast if you need us.


WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.


CAPTAIN: Evans, you come with me. We'll start right here with the city clerk's office. Uh, better check radiation again.


SFX: FOUR MEASURED CLICKS! OF RADIATION DETECTOR


EVANS: Not enough to do any damage.


SFX: OFFICE DOOR OPENS ... ASTRONAUTS' STEPS INTO OFFICE


CAPTAIN: Gives you the creeps, doesn't it?


SFX: OFFICE DOOR CLOSES ... A FEW MORE STEPS BEHIND--


CAPTAIN: Look at this desk. Papers crumpled. Inkstand. Just as if somebody came in and worked here every day. Calendar. (READS) "June eighteenth, Nineteen Eighty-Seven."


EVANS: Why, that's the day of the evacuation. The dust cloud had already blanketed New York and was heading west.


SFX: SHUFFLE! OF PAPERS ON DESK


CAPTAIN: Dog licenses. Hunting permits.


[EVANS: That's strange.


CAPTAIN: Hm?


EVANS: There's ink in that inkstand.


CAPTAIN: Well, what of it?


EVANS: Well, you'd think standing open for twenty years it would have dried up.] Somehow I have a peculiar feeling that--


SFX: PHONE RINGS


EVANS: (STUNNED) Good lord. 


[CAPTAIN: Good heavens. If I hadn't heard it with my own ears-- Evans, did that phone ring?


EVANS: Yes.


SFX: PHONE RINGS AGAIN


EVANS: Well?]


CAPTAIN: Pick it up, Evans.


SFX: RECEIVER UP


EVANS: (INTO PHONE) Hello? (BEAT, TO CAPTAIN) No answer. (INTO PHONE) Hello? (BEAT, TO CAPTAIN) I hear something. A scratching sort of noise.


HATHAWAY: (ON FILTER, FRIENDLY) Good day, Doctor!


EVANS: (STARTLED) Wha--?


HATHAWAY: (ON FILTER) How are you? I called to ask some advice about a trepanning problem. Can you tell me if the lateral cut should be made first?


EVANS: (INTO PHONE) Hello? Hello?! (BEAT, TO CAPTAIN) This is absolutely insane. (INTO PHONE) Hello?


HATHAWAY: (ON FILTER) Thank you, Doctor. I'll do that. By the way, how is your wife Alice? (BEAT) And the girls? (BEAT) And your son John? (BEAT) Fine boy, John. I'll call again tomorrow. (BEAT) Goodbye, Doctor.


SFX: PHONE DISCONNECTS


EVANS: (INTO PHONE) Hello? Hello?! 


SFX: [RATTLE OF CRADLE ...] RECEIVER DOWN


EVANS: It's gone dead.


CAPTAIN: Who was it?


EVANS: I don't know. A strange voice carried on a conversation about some surgical operation without paying the slightest attention to anything I sai-- (SUDDENLY TENSE) Captain? The lights are out.


CAPTAIN: Good lord.


SFX: DISTANT BLAST! OF BLAST GUN


WILLIAMS: (CALLS, FROM OFF) Captain! Captain!


CAPTAIN: (URGENT, TO EVANS) Light a torch. Come on.


SFX: HURRIED STEPS TO OFFICE DOOR, WHICH OPENS ... STEPS INTO CORRIDOR


CAPTAIN: (CALLS) Williams?! What is it?!


WILLIAMS: (OFF) I don't know.


SFX: OFFICE DOOR CLOSES ... HURRIED STEPS TO WILLIAMS

 

CAPTAIN: You fired a shot.


WILLIAMS: (CLOSER NOW) Yes, sir. Just as the lights went out, I - I'm sure I saw a figure. It looked like an old man in a white robe. It moved across the end of the corridor, down that way.


CAPTAIN: Flash your torch down there, Evans. (BEAT) Nothing there. Are you certain, Williams?


WILLIAMS: I'm not cert-- The lights! They're on again.


CAPTAIN: (DETERMINED) We're gonna get to the bottom of this, if--


EVANS: (LOW, URGENT) Wait, wait.


SFX: HATHAWAY'S SLOW ECHOING FOOTSTEPS APPROACH, IN BG ... ASTRONAUTS' VOICES ARE HUSHED--


CAPTAIN: What?


EVANS: Listen. Quietly. Someone is coming -- walking slowly, toward the corridor.


CAPTAIN: They're coming closer. Cover him when he turns the corner.


WILLIAMS: It'll be a pleasure.


CAPTAIN: Don't fire unless I give the word. Ssh!


SFX: A FEW SLOW ECHOING FOOTSTEPS FILL A BRIEF TENSE PAUSE ... THEN IN BG


WILLIAMS: (GASPS) What the--?!


CAPTAIN: (ASTONISHED) Jumping Jupiter.


HATHAWAY: (OFF) Are you--? Is it really someone, or -- am I having hallucinations?


CAPTAIN: (REASSURING) We are no vision.


HATHAWAY: (APPROACHES) No. No, you seem to be real. I saw the ship come down. I - I thought perhaps I was losing my mind. It's been so many years.


SFX: DURING ABOVE, HATHAWAY'S FOOTSTEPS STOP


CAPTAIN: I'm Captain John Parsons. These are my assistants -- Dr. Evans and Mr. Williams. We've returned to Earth from Mars.


HATHAWAY: (EXHALES SLOWLY, EMOTIONALLY OVERCOME) Then - it's happened. We're not alone any more. Forgive me, gentlemen, if I seem moved. I - I waited and hoped for so long.


CAPTAIN: You survived the radiation?


HATHAWAY: We - we did.


CAPTAIN: There are others?


HATHAWAY: My family; we're the only ones.


EVANS: I answered the phone a moment ago. Who was it?


HATHAWAY: You heard my voice, Doctor.


EVANS: Your voice?


HATHAWAY: To break the loneliness, I've recorded my voice and rigged up an automatic telephone. It's pleasant to hear the phone ring. (CHUCKLES) I - I come here to do my work.


EVANS: I take it you're a medical man.


HATHAWAY: My name is Cornelius Hathaway.


CAPTAIN: (REALIZES) Hathaway? Hathaway, the brain surgeon?


HATHAWAY: (SURPRISED) You know my name?


CAPTAIN: Who doesn't? I watched you on television at college. I saw you twenty, twenty-three years ago. You performed a difficult surgery for a cerebral tumor. Marvelous.


HATHAWAY: (PLEASED) Thank you. I - I'd almost forgotten. My - my mind, you see; I'm - I'm almost eighty now.


CAPTAIN: You look fine, sir.


HATHAWAY: Well, we've had the best of everything -- an entire city to choose from: cold storage; the best equipment-- Oh, but come. [There's a fine dinner waiting for you, and - and you'll want to meet my family.] When I saw your ship, I told Alice -- my - my wife, you know -- to prepare a feast. This is a great day for me, gentlemen! A great, great day!


MUSIC: FOR A GREAT DAY ... BRIDGE


[HATHAWAY: (CALLS) Alice?! Alice?! Come out to the porch and see who we have here! (NO ANSWER) Alice, you hear? Come out!


SFX: FRONT DOOR OPENS ... ALICE'S STEPS ONTO PORCH]


HATHAWAY: This is my wife, gentlemen. Alice, this is Captain Parsons, Dr. Evans, and Mr. Williams.


CAPTAIN: How do you do, Mrs. Hathaway?


ALICE: How do you do?


HATHAWAY: Now if you'll follow me, gentlemen, we'll - we'll meet my children.


[SFX: EVERYONE'S STEPS INTO HOUSE, IN BG]


CAPTAIN: (LOW, TO EVANS) Lord, what a beautiful woman.


EVANS: (LOW, TO CAPTAIN) She looks no more than thirty-five.


[CAPTAIN: (LOW, TO EVANS) Do you suppose the radiation could have done that to her?


EVANS: (LOW, TO CAPTAIN) I don't know.


SFX: EVERYONE'S STEPS STOP]


HATHAWAY: These are my daughters -- Susan and Marguerite. This is my son John.


BIZ: GREETINGS EXCHANGED ("How are you?" "Nice to meet you." ET CETERA)


HATHAWAY: Sit down, gentlemen! Sit down! (CHUCKLES) We'll have a feast in honor of this occasion. Susan, Marguerite, get the best silverware and the damask napkins. John, fetch the glasses.


JOHN: Oh, yes, father. It'll only take me--


CAPTAIN: Oh, excuse me, John.


JOHN: Sir?


CAPTAIN: How old are you?


JOHN: (SIMPLY) Twenty-three, sir.


CAPTAIN: (BEAT) Thank you.


JOHN: (MOVING OFF) Now if you'll excuse me--


EVANS: (LOW) What is it, Captain? Something wrong?


CAPTAIN: (LOW) Nothing, except that it's impossible. You see, Dr. Hathaway's son was already in college when I started. That would make him at least forty-five.


MUSIC: FOR A MILDLY PERPLEXED BRIDGE


SFX: CLINK! OF DINNERWARE


CAPTAIN: (EXHALES HEARTILY) That was a wonderful meal, Mrs. Hathaway. (TO HATHAWAY) Doctor, your wife is an exceptional woman.


HATHAWAY: (CHUCKLES) Thank you, sir.


ALICE: How would you gentlemen like some fresh gingerbread with your coffee? I baked it this morning.


CAPTAIN: Ohhhh, wonderful! (SNIFFS DEEPLY) Smell that, Evans?


EVANS: Oh, it's like coming home, Mrs. Hathaway.


HATHAWAY: (CHUCKLES)


ALICE: We enjoy having you here!


CAPTAIN: Mrs. Hathaway, may I compliment you on your having preserved your youth and beauty so well?


ALICE: (AWKWARD PAUSE) Thank you. We have had no worries here. No competition. Only the things we need for material comfort.


EVANS: Er, Parsons and I were wondering, Dr. Hathaway, if the radioactivity had any effect in preserving tissue. Your children all look so young, too.


HATHAWAY: (UNCOMFORTABLY) It, er-- It is possible, gentlemen, of course. Radiation does strange things to living tissue. (ABRUPTLY CHANGES THE SUBJECT) Alice, could we have some champagne?


ALICE: (MOVING OFF) Of course. I'll only be a moment.


CAPTAIN: (LOW) An amazing woman. Did you ever see such grace? Such complete relaxation?


EVANS: (LOW) Doesn't seem quite natural.


HATHAWAY: I beg your pardon, gentlemen?


EVANS: Captain Parsons was just about to ask how you and your family managed to escape, Dr. Hathaway.


HATHAWAY: We were very fortunate. I was working in the Sierra Mountains at the time. I had a lead-lined laboratory where I did X-ray research on my pet project.


EVANS: And what is that, sir?


HATHAWAY: The study of machines as they relate to human function -- and the corollary, of course-- (TRAILS OFF UNCOMFORTABLY; RESUMES WITH GUSTO) Well, to continue! When the dust cloud covered America, we remained in the laboratory, well-supplied with food and water. Later, when the radiation permitted, we made our way east, back to our old home, in the hopes of finding other survivors. But by that time, every living creature had been evacuated to Mars. We were stranded. The migration ships didn't wait for stragglers. 


CAPTAIN: That's true. My father and I were on the last rocket out of New York.


HATHAWAY: I've always loved this old house. But the loneliness of those first years--


CAPTAIN: At least you had your wife and children.


HATHAWAY: (SLOWLY) Yes. (QUICKER) Yes, I had my family. If it were not for them, gentlemen, I assure you, I would long ago have put a bullet in my head.


ALICE: (RETURNS, CHEERFUL) Here we are!


BIZ: ASTRONAUTS EXHALE HAPPILY


ALICE: Champagne, Captain?


SFX: DRINKS POURED


CAPTAIN: Oh, thank you, Mrs. Hathaway. May--? May I propose a toast?


HATHAWAY: Oh, let me. (GRANDLY, A TOAST) Gentlemen, to Earth!


CAPTAIN: To Earth.


HATHAWAY: Earth. May she never be a stranger to man again-- (GASPS IN PAIN)


SFX: GLASS DROPPED


CAPTAIN: Hathaway, what is it?


HATHAWAY: (IN GREAT PAIN) Nothing, really. It's just a rather sharp pain in the chest.


EVANS: I think you should lie down, Doctor.


HATHAWAY: Yes. Perhaps you're right.


EVANS: Here, let me help you.


HATHAWAY: No, no, no. John and Susan will help.


JOHN: Of course, Father.


HATHAWAY: Why - why don't you gentlemen go out on the porch and enjoy the air? [You've had a long and tiring journey. Alice will show you the way.


ALICE: Will you be all right?


HATHAWAY: Don't - don't trouble yourself.] I'll - I'll see you all in the morning.


CAPTAIN: Good night, Doctor.


HATHAWAY: Good night. Come, John.


JOHN: Yes, Father.


MUSIC: WISTFUL BRIDGE


SFX: EERIE WIND BLOWS ... CONTINUES IN BG


CAPTAIN: Well, what do you think of old Mother Earth now, Williams? Smell that summer breeze. Look at that view of the city lighted up against the sky.


WILLIAMS: (GRUDGINGLY) It has a certain quality.


EVANS: (MERRILY) Well! Score one point for the back-to-Earth proponents.


CAPTAIN: (CHUCKLES)


WILLIAMS: I didn't say that.


CAPTAIN: You're beginning to feel it, though, Williams; I can tell.


WILLIAMS: If you don't mind, gentlemen, I'm quite tired. (MOVING OFF) I think I'll turn in. Excuse me.


SFX: WILLIAMS' STEPS STEPS TO FRONT DOOR, WHICH OPENS AND SHUTS AS HE EXITS


EVANS: Well, Captain?


CAPTAIN: Well, what?


EVANS: What do you make of all this?


CAPTAIN: I don't know what you mean.


EVANS: This Hathaway and his family. There's something strange and unnatural going on here; I can sense it.


CAPTAIN: I think you're reading things into it, Evans.


EVANS: Oh? Perhaps. Well, I'll turn in, too. Are you coming?


CAPTAIN: In a moment. I - want to smoke a cigarette.


SFX: DURING ABOVE, EVANS' STEPS STEPS TO FRONT DOOR, WHICH OPENS AND SHUTS AS HE EXITS


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN ... UNEASY


ALICE: Beautiful view.


CAPTAIN: (STARTLED) What--?


ALICE: Is it not?


CAPTAIN: (EXHALES UNEASILY) I didn't hear you come out. How is he?


ALICE: Resting. I've never seen him this bad.


CAPTAIN: Yes. He's an old man. (EXHALES APOLOGETICALLY) I'm sorry, but the difference in your ages is so apparent. You must have been married very young.


[ALICE: You don't know about us, then?


CAPTAIN: No.


ALICE: Perhaps it is better that way.


CAPTAIN: I don't follow you. Is it something about your husband? He - he acts very strangely.]


ALICE: My husband is a very great man, Captain. It's too bad there was no one to appreciate him. Once, he wired the whole city with sound speakers and when he pressed a button, the whole town lit up and made noises, as if ten thousand people were living in it.


CAPTAIN: He must have been very lonesome for people. Although, with a woman such as you, I don't understand--


ALICE: Perhaps one day you will understand. 


[CAPTAIN: I hope you'll come to trust me, as a friend.


ALICE: (CRYPTIC) I can trust no one but him.] (WARMLY) Good night, Captain!


CAPTAIN: Good night, Mrs. Hathaway.


MUSIC: UP, FOR A WARM AND BEAUTIFUL BRIDGE


SFX: TICKING! OF CLOCK ... IN BG


EVANS: Captain? Captain Parsons?


CAPTAIN: (WAKES) Huh? Who's there?


EVANS: It's Dr. Evans.


CAPTAIN: What time is it?


EVANS: Two A. M.


CAPTAIN: What's wrong?


EVANS: I couldn't sleep. A few minutes ago, I heard someone slip out the front door. In the moonlight, I saw it was the old man. He was headed toward our ship.


CAPTAIN: What are you suggesting, Evans?


EVANS: Nothing, except that it's fairly unnatural for an old man with a bad heart to go wandering off at two in the morning.


CAPTAIN: Very well. We'll follow him.


MUSIC: FOR FOLLOWING A MAN IN THE MOONLIGHT ... BRIDGE


SFX: FOOTSTEPS THROUGH BRUSH ... EERIE WIND BLOWS ... CONTINUES IN BG


CAPTAIN: See him yet?


EVANS: No.


CAPTAIN: Look. Ahead there, on the hillside. Isn't that Hathaway kneeling in the moonlight?


EVANS: Yes, I think so. Can we get closer?


CAPTAIN: Let's head for that clump of bushes.


SFX: FOOTSTEPS TO CLUMP OF BUSHES ... THEN STOP


CAPTAIN: This is far enough.


EVANS: What do you suppose he's doing there? What are those things on the ground?


HATHAWAY: (FROM OFF, INDECIPHERABLY MURMURING A PRAYER ... CONTINUES IN BG)


CAPTAIN: Good lord. Those are grave markers. Four of them.


EVANS: You're right. Seems to be praying over them.


CAPTAIN: Listen.


HATHAWAY: (SLIGHTLY OFF, ANXIOUS) Do you forgive me for what I've done? I had to do it. [I was so lonely.] I was so terribly lonely. [You don't mind too much?] You - you do forgive me, don't you? (BEAT, WITH RELIEF) Yes, I - I feel you do. I'm glad. (GROWING WEAKER) I think perhaps I can rest now. I think I-- (GROANS IN PAIN, CONTINUES BEHIND--)


CAPTAIN: (TO EVANS) He's having another attack. Come on.


SFX: HURRIED FOOTSTEPS THROUGH BRUSH TO HATHAWAY


CAPTAIN: Hathaway! Dr. Hathaway--? [Can you hear me?] Raise his head, Evans.


EVANS: His lips are moving.


CAPTAIN: (TO HATHAWAY) What is it, Doctor?


HATHAWAY: Closer. Lean closer. I - I'm sorry I had to spoil all of this. I've - I've expected it for some time.


CAPTAIN: We'll fix you up.


HATHAWAY: No. [No, I'm an excellent diagnostician.] No, this is the end for me. It really doesn't matter. Except for them.


CAPTAIN: What about them, Hathaway?


HATHAWAY: You - you suspected, didn't you?


CAPTAIN: Yes, I suspected, but I couldn't believe it until now. Do they know?


HATHAWAY: No. No, they wouldn't understand. I - I - I wouldn't want them to know -- ever. (WEAKLY) The Earth-- The Earth--


CAPTAIN: Don't try to talk.


HATHAWAY: (HIS DYING WORDS) The Earth is so fair.


CAPTAIN: Doctor--?!


HATHAWAY: (EXHALES HIS DYING BREATH)


SFX: BODY SLUMPS


EVANS: He's dead, Captain. He knew it was the end this time.


CAPTAIN: Yes, he knew.


EVANS: What was it he meant about your suspecting--?


CAPTAIN: Light a match, Evans. Look on those four grave markers and tell me what you see.


SFX: MATCH STRIKES!


EVANS: (BEAT, STUNNED) Good lord. 


CAPTAIN: Well?


EVANS: (READS, MYSTIFIED) "Alice Hathaway -- Marguerite Hathaway -- Susan Hathaway -- John Hathaway. Died, July Nineteen Eighty-Seven." (TO CAPTAIN) But that's twenty years ago. If these markers are correct, then - who are those others?


CAPTAIN: Can't you guess, Evans? Can't you guess?


MUSIC: CYMBAL CRASH! FOR ACCENT ... THEN BRIDGE


SFX: BEDROOM DOOR OPENS


CAPTAIN: Mrs. Hathaway? Are you awake?


ALICE: Yes, Captain?


CAPTAIN: May I come in?


ALICE: Yes. It's about my husband, isn't it?


CAPTAIN: (REALIZES) You knew.


ALICE: I saw him go out tonight. He felt it was near the end.


CAPTAIN: He died less than an hour ago. I'm sorry.


ALICE: Thank you.


CAPTAIN: How do you feel?


ALICE: He told us it would happen one day and that he didn't want us to cry. He didn't teach us how, you know. He said it was the worst thing that could happen: to know how to be lonely and unhappy. (BEAT) What will happen to us now that he's gone?


CAPTAIN: I don't know.


ALICE: Will you stay with us?


CAPTAIN: I would like to, but I cannot.


ALICE: You know about us?


CAPTAIN: Yes. I know. I didn't think that you knew yourself.


ALICE: The children don't. I've been aware for a long while.


CAPTAIN: No one would have guessed. You're so perfect.


ALICE: Oh, he would have liked to hear you say that. He was so very proud of us. After a while, he came to love us. And at the end, he took us as his real wife and children. He even forgot sometimes - that he had made us.


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN BRIEFLY ... OUT AT [X]


CAPTAIN: You gave him a great deal of comfort.


ALICE: Yes. Over the years, we sat and talked. He loved so much to talk. I was first, you know. Then he became lonesome for the children, and so he made them. He told me about the things he did, about his laboratory-- [X]


CAPTAIN: Surely the children must suspect.


ALICE: Oh, no. You see, there were no other beings with which to compare themselves.


CAPTAIN: (EXHALES) He must have been a great, great genius.


ALICE: Each morning, he took a recording of his voice into town and put it on the automatic telephone. Each night, it would call us. I think, what with the phone ringing and the sound of voices and the lights on, he was happy. There was only one thing-- One flaw.


CAPTAIN: And that?


ALICE: He couldn't make us grow old. And so he had to watch himself become an old, old man -- while we stayed young. It was a great blow to him.


[CAPTAIN: We'll bury him on the hillside, where the other four crosses are. I think he would like that.


ALICE: Yes. He would.


CAPTAIN: Mrs. Hathaway--? Alice? I think that you are a very great and wonderful woman.]


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... THEN FOR A FUNERAL, IN BG


CAPTAIN: And so we commend the body of this man, Cornelius Hathaway, to his Maker. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust returneth. Amen.


MUSIC: UP, FOR A BRIEF TRANSITION, AND OUT


ALICE: Come, John.


JOHN: Yes, mother.


ALICE: Susan? Marguerite?


SFX: DURING ABOVE, THE FAMILY'S FOOTSTEPS AWAY FROM GRAVE


CAPTAIN: Evans? Williams? Stay here a moment, please.


EVANS: What is it?


CAPTAIN: Let them go back to the house. I want to speak to you.


WILLIAMS: I know what you're going to tell us, Captain. I saw the names on the grave markers.


CAPTAIN: Well?


WILLIAMS: It's a mockery -- a blasphemy of everything we believe in -- for a man to do something so evil.


CAPTAIN: Can't you imagine what he faced? Can't you imagine what it must have been like to have watched his wife and children die slowly of radiation burns? To know that he was the last man on the face of the Earth? Alone -- eternally and unalterably alone? Good lord, man, what would you have done if you'd had his medical and technical genius? [I'll tell you. You'd have come back to your laboratory just as he did and - and try to recapture all the wonderful things that they had been to you. You'd use all the power of your memory, all the accuracy of your fingers, and you'd try to put together, bit by bit, all those things that were wife, son, and daughters.]


EVANS: It's incredible.


CAPTAIN: Yes, it is. But with an entire American city on which to draw for supplies and equipment, a brilliant man might accomplish anything, even that.


WILLIAMS: What are you suggesting, Captain? That we take them back?


CAPTAIN: We haven't enough space in the ship for that. Every ounce counts. Still, to leave them here like that; alone--


WILLIAMS: I think I have an answer -- cold-blooded as it may seem.


CAPTAIN: Go on.


WILLIAMS: I suggest that we - turn them off.


CAPTAIN: Do you think that I could do that?


WILLIAMS: No. But I could. After all, they aren't human. They're worse than robots. They're ghoulish. [I suggest you go back to the ship, Captain, and leave me to deal with them.


CAPTAIN: I will not permit it.


WILLIAMS: You've no choice in the matter. I assure you, it'll be quick and entirely painless.


EVANS: I hate to admit it, but he's right, Captain.]


CAPTAIN: Have you talked to her? Has she smiled at you with that quiet, beautiful smile?


EVANS: Captain, we can't take them with us. And it would be less than human to leave them here without Hathaway. [They were created by him, for himself. They have no other feelings, no other purpose. If you leave them, they'll go on -- year after year, night after night -- talking, laughing, baking strawberry biscuits - for no reason; not knowing who they are or why they exist.]


CAPTAIN: Could you do it, Evans?


[EVANS: I don't know.


WILLIAMS: I've already offered to do it!


CAPTAIN: No. No, I wouldn't want it to be you, Williams. You're - you're sick; you have no feeling. If Dr. Evans here can do it-- Well, so be it.


EVANS: It's a difficult thing, Captain.


CAPTAIN: Still, as you say, they aren't-- They aren't human. Logic is on your side. It isn't as if you were murdering someone. (BEAT) Well?]


EVANS: Give me the blast gun, Williams.


CAPTAIN: We'll wait in the ship. Take-off in half an hour.


EVANS: Half an hour.


MUSIC: SOMBER BRIDGE


SFX: TICKING! OF SPACESHIP CLOCK ... THEN IN BG


WILLIAMS: Six twenty-five. He should be back soon.


CAPTAIN: Yes.


WILLIAMS: He's doing the only humane thing, Captain. They are less than human.


CAPTAIN: Are they?


WILLIAMS: Well, it's done now, and no one will ever--


SOUND: OUTER DOOR SLIDES OPEN


WILLIAMS: That's the airlock. He's back.


SOUND: OUTER DOOR SLIDES SHUT ... EVANS' STEPS IN


CAPTAIN: (BEAT) Well?


EVANS: Here's your gun.


CAPTAIN: Did you do it?


EVANS: When I entered the house, [one of the daughters looked up at me and she smiled. The others smiled. He'd taught them that; taught them to make him feel welcome when he came home at night. I knew that, and yet-- Well, I should have done it then. I might have, but she came in; the wife. She said something about sitting down for a cup of tea.] She looked at me with those fine intelligent eyes. I couldn't do it. It would be murder, cold-blooded murder.


CAPTAIN: I prayed you wouldn't be able to do it. There will never be anything as fine as they are. Built to last two hundred, three hundred -- perhaps a thousand years. Well, get the course in the integrator, Williams. We'll take off in twenty minutes. I should be back by then.


EVANS: You're going out, sir?


CAPTAIN: I'm going to say goodbye.


SFX: CAPTAIN'S STEPS AWAY


MUSIC: FOR SAYING GOODBYE ... BRIDGE


SFX: FRONT DOOR OPENS


ALICE: You've come back.


CAPTAIN: Only to say goodbye.


ALICE: It was nice of you.


CAPTAIN: I wanted you to know - that I am coming back someday.


[ALICE: Here? To us?


CAPTAIN: Here. To you.


ALICE: I - I believe you.


CAPTAIN: (DEEPLY) I never meant anything more.]


ALICE: When will you come?


CAPTAIN: I don't know. It will take many years to prepare fuel for another trip. Six, seven, perhaps ten years.


ALICE: I will watch the sky at night -- just as he watched it.


[CAPTAIN: I'm not a young man.


ALICE: Time is nothing to me. I was born - out of time.]


CAPTAIN: (EXHALES) I'm afraid I must go now.


ALICE: I understand. (BEAT, SLOWLY) Strange. I have a new feeling. One which he did not teach us. A feeling of longing. Of sadness.


CAPTAIN: That one is not taught. It comes of being alive.


ALICE: (REALIZES) Yes. I am alive. Even though he created me, I'm a person now.


CAPTAIN: (SLOWLY, TENDERLY) Goodbye, Alice Hathaway.


ALICE: (WARMLY) Goodbye, John Parsons.


MUSIC

& SFX: TRANSITION ... ENGINES ROAR AS SPACESHIP BLASTS OFF 


MUSIC: UP, FOR CURTAIN


ANNOUNCER: You have just heard another adventure into the unknown world of the future, the world of--


MUSIC: OMINOUS RUMBLE


ANNOUNCER: (HEAVY ECHO) Dimension X-x-x-x-x- (TRAILS OFF) 


MUSIC: OMINOUS PERCUSSION ... THEN IN BG


HOST: When the time comes for man to explore the universe, to deal with the strange inhabitants of other worlds, there will be much to remember. Perhaps the most important lesson of all will seem too fundamental to be included in the training manuals. Listen at this time next week as DIMENSION X brings you a story from the pages of the August Astounding Science Fiction, a story called "Courtesy."


MUSIC: WEIRD ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: DIMENSION X is presented each week by the National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. Today DIMENSION X has presented "Dwellers in Silence," written for radio by George Lefferts from the story by Ray Bradbury. Featured in the cast were Peter Capell as Captain Parsons, Bill Griffis as Dr. Hathaway, and Gertrude Warner as Alice. Your host was Norman Rose. Music by Albert Buhrman. DIMENSION X is produced by William Welch and directed by Fred Weihe. 


NBC ANNCR: DRAGNET, the story of your police force, is next on NBC.


MUSIC: NBC CHIMES


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