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Men Call Me Mad

Dark Fantasy

Men Call Me Mad

Dec 19 1941





DR. WEST, younger

DR. SMITH, older









TERHUNE: Dr. West, will you please close the door?

WEST: Certainly, Dr. Terhune.


TERHUNE: Now, gentlemen, I have summoned you -- my two trusted and loyal friends -- to divulge a secret that even I myself can hardly comprehend.

SMITH: You've made a new discovery, Charles?

TERHUNE: A discovery? Yes. I have found another world.

SMITH: A what?

WEST: Another world you say?

TERHUNE: Exactly. Will you please snap off the lights, doctor? That switch there.

SMITH: Yes, certainly.


TERHUNE: Now, by means of this special projection machine, I'm going to show you something which will astound you beyond words. I must ask you to remain perfectly still throughout this demonstration. As the picture I'm about to show you progresses, I will explain in detail just what I have done. Now, first of all, to start the machine.


TERHUNE: Now, observe this picture I've taken on color film -- a picture of the new moon. Now, you will notice that the camera has picked up a single ray of the moon. It's focused upon a wall whereon dances a single tiny moonbeam. The camera approaches the moonbeam. Closer. Closer. Still closer. And then the special film in my camera reaches the lens. The scene changes.

WEST: Dr. Smith--?

TERHUNE: (INTERRUPTS) Gentlemen, gentlemen -- please. Now, you see here my other world -- my world within a moonbeam -- taken upon special color film of my own invention -- film that is constructed to pick up objects within the very atoms -- objects smaller, that is, than atoms themselves. Notice, please, the coloring of this other world within a moonbeam. See the hills, the plains with their red grass, their red-leafed trees. Notice that tiny stream at the left -- a vivid orange. Notice the yellow of the tree trunks, the orange-colored sky, and the deep blue sun.

SMITH: Amazing.

TERHUNE: The film ends quickly now, but first a rare sight is in store for you. Now watch closely. (BEAT) There.

WEST: A man! But what sort of creature is that he's riding?

TERHUNE: I don't know. You will notice the animal approaches the small stream, wades quickly through it, and vanishes from the camera's sight. And as he vanishes into the distance, the film ends.


SMITH: Amazing.

WEST: Astounding. Unbelievable.

TERHUNE: The lights, if you please, doctor.

SMITH: Oh, yes, of course.


WEST: Look here, Terhune, is this a camera trick?

TERHUNE: Absolutely not. I have shown you what actually exists within certain, or possibly all, moonbeams.

SMITH: What's your theory, doctor?

TERHUNE: That all creation consists of worlds within worlds. Who can say that our world is not contained within some still larger one? And that within another. And that still within another, and so on.

SMITH: The thought suddenly becomes overwhelming.

TERHUNE: Yes, doesn't it? To think that all around us, within even such tiny substances as the atoms themselves -- under our feet, overhead, on all sides -- are worlds of which we are unaware.

WEST: Yes. If only there were some way to visit those other worlds.

TERHUNE: Ah, Dr. West -- that is the point. We can.

WEST: Good heavens, man. You mean--?

SMITH: Yes, just what do you mean?

TERHUNE: Gentlemen, I plan to enter that world in the moonbeam.

WEST: Impossible.

SMITH: I don't like to say so, Charles, but aren't you overlooking the laws of dimension, the - the general Median laws of nature that are so obvious--?

WEST: Not only that, Terhune, but-- Aren't you appearing a little ridiculous on the face of things?

TERHUNE: I do not expect you to be convinced until you have seen.

SMITH: We in our profession are not inclined to take such things as we are speaking of for granted.

TERHUNE: Then let's not waste words, my friends. I propose to convince you beyond all possible doubt.

WEST: Well, I have no objection to being convinced.

SMITH: Nor I. (CHUCKLES) Though I really believe Terhune has let his imagination win the upper hand.

TERHUNE: Well, we shall see. Now here, gentlemen, on this table you see what looks like an Eskimo igloo made of crystal-clear glass with an opening at one side at the base, much like an entrance to an igloo or tent.

SMITH: (EXAMINES IT) Yes, it's about ten inches high and, er, about eight inches in diameter.

TERHUNE: Now when we extinguish the lights here in this room, and when that curtain is drawn from the window over there, the moonbeam in question will be centered directly through that little glass case.

WEST: You want us to assist you?

TERHUNE: Exactly.

SMITH: But what do you intend to do?

TERHUNE: Well, I have here a number of small capsules filled with a potion whose base consists mostly of radium.

WEST: What is this preparation?

TERHUNE: A substance which will cause animal matter to decrease itself many millions of times.

SMITH: In other words, you think it'll make you become smaller?

TERHUNE: Precisely.

WEST: But -- small enough to enter the realm of a single atom?

TERHUNE: I hope so.

SMITH: Well, have you--? Have you tried this concoction?

TERHUNE: Only on animals. First on rabbits and rats, and just yesterday I sent a dog into the world of atoms.

WEST: But, granting such a feat is possible, don't you think your clothes would also shrink with you?

TERHUNE: Well, I have found that any object in contact with the animal matter at the time the capsule is consumed will be caused to shrink in proportion with the animal matter itself. I found that out yesterday when I failed to remove the dog's collar.

SMITH: But suppose you consume too great a quantity of the potion?

TERHUNE: I have an equalizer -- another mixture which will counteract the first capsule. By taking particular amounts of it, I can stop the reaction of the capsule and then, having stopped it, by taking another dose of the stabilizer or equalizer, I can increase my size again.

WEST: (SLOW AND SKEPTICAL) This is all very extraordinary.

TERHUNE: I plan to be gone quite some time. I'm asking you two to watch over this little glass case for a four-day period.

WEST: You can count on me, Terhune.

SMITH: And on me.

TERHUNE: Good. Now I shall take a capsule. I will begin to grow [smaller] almost immediately. When I've reached about two feet in height, I want you, Dr. Smith, to bend down to the floor and pick me up, and place me on this table here, beside this little glass case, putting me directly in front of the opening, or door, of the case. Is that clear?

SMITH: Quite. Yes.

TERHUNE: Good. Gentlemen, my hand.

WEST: (SHAKES HANDS) Good luck, Charles.



SMITH: We'll follow your instructions carefully, doctor.

TERHUNE: Good. I knew I could count on you two. 


TERHUNE: Now the capsule.


TERHUNE: (SWALLOWS CAPSULE, EXHALES; SLOWLY) My - my head is whirring. My ears are ringing. Eyes are growing dim. I have a sensation of emptiness in the pit of my stomach. Do you notice any change in my appearance?

WEST: Good heavens! He's lost a foot in height.

SMITH: Why, you're growing smaller, Terhune. You are, man. You're actually growing smaller!

WEST: He's - two feet smaller now.

TERHUNE: I - I hope I regain my eyesight before I become too small. Are my clothes diminishing, too?

SMITH: Yes, yes, quite!

TERHUNE: I - I cannot describe my sensations. I feel a strange weakness. My senses seem to be deserting me. I find it rather difficult to talk.

SMITH: Look! He's just about two feet high now, West.

WEST: Do as he told you, doctor! Pick him up now, place him on the table.

SMITH: Yes, yes, just so.

WEST: Careful now. (BEAT) There. Here, put him closer to that door so he'll have no trouble finding it. Watch your arm, doctor -- don't cut off the moonbeam. There, that's good.

SMITH: He's only about six inches high now.

WEST: There he goes -- into the glass case. See? The moonbeam is completely covering him. He's so tiny now you can hardly see him; the size of a small ant.


SMITH: He's faded into the light of the beam now. I wonder what he'll discover in there. I wonder what he'll discover. (FADES OUT)


TERHUNE: (TO HIMSELF) At last! I'm here in another world. Such a strange place. Similar to the place I came from, yet - different. Trees, yet with leaves of brilliant scarlet and yellow bark. The grass, also scarlet. An orange-colored sky overhead. A sun of dazzling blue. And the water in the little stream over there -- not blue, but orange. Yes, the colors -- all different. Everything else correspondingly the same.

PRINCESS: Why do you speak so strangely?

TERHUNE: Oh, I beg your pardon. I thought I was alone.

PRINCESS: You must be a foreigner. Otherwise, you'd know you're in the king's gardens and they are quite private.

TERHUNE: I'm so sorry. Yes, I am a foreigner. If you'll forgive me, I'll leave at once.

PRINCESS: Oh, no. Please. It is our custom to treat foreigners in a friendly manner. And so I bid you welcome. I am the Princess Elena.

TERHUNE: A princess?

PRINCESS: Yes. Daughter of King Londolier. Surely you've heard of me.

TERHUNE: No, princess, I have not.

PRINCESS: But surely-- My father rules the world with kindness and justice -- and everyone knows him for his goodness.

TERHUNE: Princess, will it frighten you if I tell you something -- something most strange?

PRINCESS: I think not, sir, for you yourself are most strange. Your clothing, the colors -- not in the least ordinary. And your features are so different.

TERHUNE: Princess Elena, my name is Charles Terhune. I'm a citizen of the United States of America. 

PRINCESS: America? I know the world quite well, but never have I heard of America.

TERHUNE: That is why I fear I might frighten you, Your Highness. You see, America is not in this world. It is in another.

PRINCESS: (NOT SURPRISED) You're from another world?

TERHUNE: Exactly. You see, I am a scientist in my own universe. I discovered your world here, so I found a way to come to visit you. Why, you don't seem at all surprised.

PRINCESS: No. Why should I be surprised? We've expected you for a long time.


PRINCESS: Well, not you exactly. But someone.

TERHUNE: What - what do you mean?

PRINCESS: Our scientists have known for many years that other worlds besides ours exist. But they've never been able to discover a method of entering one of them. We've been hoping someone from beyond would find a way here.

TERHUNE: Amazing.

PRINCESS: That is why I asked if you were a foreigner. Since my father rules the entire world, naturally a foreigner could only be from another world.

TERHUNE: This absolutely astounds me. Princess, I must speak to your scientists. Well, this is so wonderful. The people of our worlds seem much alike, save in a few minor respects: we look alike, talk alike.

PRINCESS: We've often wondered how much we would be like the people from beyond.

TERHUNE: Take me to your scientists, princess. I must see them.

PRINCESS: I'll gladly take you to them. But first, I must warn you. You are in great danger.

TERHUNE: Danger?

PRINCESS: Our world is doomed. We're falling victims to a strange malady, which none of our doctors or learned men can overcome. It is slaying our people by the thousands.

TERHUNE: A plague?

PRINCESS: Yes. A mysterious disease -- one we've never encountered before in all history. If you would save yourself, use whatever method you have and return to your own world before it's too late.

TERHUNE: One moment. Princess, will you take me to your father? I - I don't know why I say this, but perhaps I can help.

PRINCESS: Oh, no. No, save yourself, I beg of you. Do not remain here to perish.

TERHUNE: Please, princess. At least allow me to try to help.

PRINCESS: You're either very brave or very foolish.

TERHUNE: Brave or foolish, take me to your father.

PRINCESS: Very well. But he will only warn you, as I have done.



TERHUNE: (FADES IN) And that, Your Majesty, is how I found your world and the way to enter it.

KING: (THOUGHTFUL) It's interesting. At one time, I would have said amazing. But with our discoveries of other worlds around us, it's now only interesting.

PRINCESS: I've warned Dr. Terhune to return to his own universe before he falls victim to the plague.

KING: Yes, my son, you must.

TERHUNE: But I would like to help. I'm a doctor where I came from. Perhaps I could do something.

KING: I fear it's useless. Our most brilliant physicians are powerless to even make a diagnosis, much less a cure.

TERHUNE: But I have a knowledge from another world, Your Majesty.

PRINCESS: That's true, father. He found a way of reaching us, while we here have been unable to reach the other places beyond.

KING: Yes. Yes, daughter, you reason wisely.

TERHUNE: Please, Your Majesty, permit me to see some of the victims. I can't return home until I've at least made an attempt to help you.

KING: Very well. As you wish. Come with me. My son lies dying in a room above. I'll permit you to examine him.


KING: Well, Dr. Terhune?

TERHUNE: (EXCITED) Your Majesty--!

PRINCESS: Dr. Terhune--?

TERHUNE: Heavens, man! This is typhoid!

KING: Typhoid?

PRINCESS: But what is typhoid?

TERHUNE: We have it on our Earth.

KING: Well, tell us -- do you know the cure?

TERHUNE: Yes, Your Majesty, I do. Take me to your nearest medical laboratory. We must prepare a serum -- huge quantities of it -- and we must send it to all parts of the world immediately if we're to save your people!


KING: (PLEASED) Daughter! These reports -- from all parts of the universe. The deaths grow fewer and fewer each day.

PRINCESS: It's a miracle, father! And Charles Terhune has saved us all!


PRINCESS: There's been no typhoid deaths now for three days.

TERHUNE: I know. Our fight has been won.

PRINCESS: The people are clamoring for you, Dr. Terhune. They almost consider you a god.

TERHUNE: I am no god, princess. Merely a man with a little knowledge.

PRINCESS: But you came to us like a miracle man -- in time to work the greatest wonder of all history.

TERHUNE: I'm happy that my journey here has been for a purpose.

PRINCESS: Anything you ever wish in the world will be yours.

TERHUNE: I know, Elena. There's so little I want --- and yet so much.

PRINCESS: Will you remain here with us? Forever?

TERHUNE: I - I cannot, princess.

PRINCESS: (QUICK AND TENDER) You called me Elena a moment ago.

TERHUNE: I cannot, Elena. I must return to tell my people what I've discovered.

PRINCESS: (UNHAPPY) Oh, but if you go now-- (STOPS SHORT)

TERHUNE: Yes, Elena?

PRINCESS: (HALF TO HERSELF) Oh, why must we always be governed by rules of propriety?

TERHUNE: Elena, if - if you're thinking what I hope you are--


TERHUNE: (THE SAME) Elena, my darling. Is it wrong to say I love you?

PRINCESS: Charles-- Is it wrong for stars to shine? Or for flowers to bloom?

TERHUNE: Oh, my darling princess.

PRINCESS: Charles-- 

TERHUNE: I love you, Elena.

PRINCESS: And I love you. Please -- don't leave me, my darling.

TERHUNE: Just for a little while. I will return to you, Elena. I promise.

PRINCESS: Then I will wait for you, beloved. And when you return, nothing in this world or any other will ever take us apart.


WEST: (DISCOURAGED) It's past his time. Almost four days.


SMITH: Look! A movement there in the moonbeam, see?

WEST: No, I-- Yes! Look! He is coming back! See? There. He's out of the glass case, on the tabletop!

SMITH: He's growing rapidly, West. You'd better place him down on the floor.

WEST: Look! Larger and larger.

SMITH: This is perfectly astounding, man! I wonder what his adventures have been.

WEST: Dr. Terhune?! Can you hear me, Dr. Terhune?!

SMITH: He's almost four feet tall now.

WEST: Can you hear me, doctor?!

TERHUNE: (WEAKLY) Water-- Some water, please. 

SMITH: Water, West, quickly! Over there in that goblet!

WEST: Yes, just one moment. (BEAT) Here we are.

SMITH: He's all right now. Full size again. Here, Terhune -- drink this.

TERHUNE: (WEAKLY) Yes. Thanks.



WEST: Are you all right, Terhune?

TERHUNE: Yes. Quite all right, thank you. (INHALES) Gentlemen, I have had the strangest experience imaginable. I have visited a world that's amazing and wonderful.

SMITH: Tell us about it.

TERHUNE: Yes, I will. When I became small enough to enter the moonbeam, I found myself in the exact spot you two saw in the picture I displayed for you. I did not know which way to go, naturally, but after a moment I heard someone speak to me-- (FADES OUT)


TERHUNE: (FADES IN) And that, my friends, is precisely what happened to me.

WEST: And you say those people knew all about the existence of other worlds, but were not familiar with such a disease as typhoid?

TERHUNE: Exactly.

SMITH: You must have been somewhat of a hero, Terhune.

TERHUNE: Yes, somewhat.

WEST: You know, if I hadn't seen this demonstration with my own eyes, I'd never have believed it.

TERHUNE: Well, Dr. West, even though I was the one who experienced it, I'm still wondering if it actually happened.

SMITH: Well, it happened, all right. Yes, we saw you grow small right before our eyes, so small you became almost invisible and disappeared in the moonbeam.

TERHUNE: I trust you two will confirm any statements I might make to the public about all this?

SMITH: Oh, absolutely.

WEST: Certainly, Terhune.

TERHUNE: By the way, was my sister here during my absence?

WEST: Why, yes, she was. She acted very strangely, too, but we told her nothing.

TERHUNE: Well, gentlemen, perhaps I should have told you this before. You see, my sister and I jointly own several hundred acres of valuable oil land in the south. She's a greedy woman. She's tried for years to obtain full possession of the property. She's tried many ways, but her latest method is by charging that - I'm insane.

SMITH: Oh, well, that's ridiculous!

TERHUNE: Yes, exactly. But she's preferred the charges. Tomorrow at nine I must appear before a group of alienists who will decide whether or not I'm mentally unbalanced. That is why I had to make my experiment before tomorrow.


SPECIALIST: Dr. Terhune, you've been carefully examined by this impartial and experienced board of alienists at the request of your sister. It's our decision that you must submit yourself to a series of treatments at whatever sanitarium your sister might choose.

TERHUNE: No, no! Stop! This has all been so irregular! So unfair! You think I'm mad. Well, the story I've told you is true! I can prove everything I've said!

SPECIALIST: Please, Dr. Terhune--

TERHUNE: My two friends, Dr. West and Dr. Smith! Ask them! Why haven't you let them testify for me?! They saw it! They'll tell you everything I've said is true!


SPECIALIST: Er, one moment.


SPECIALIST: (INTO PHONE) Yes? --- Oh-- Yes, he's here with me now. --- I see. --- Hm. Yes, all right, I'll tell him.


SPECIALIST: I'm sorry, Dr. Terhune, I'm afraid I have bad news for you. Doctors West and Smith were to have testified in your behalf. But I've just received word that they were both killed a few moments ago in an automobile accident.


TERHUNE: (SADLY, TO HIMSELF) And that was the verdict. Now men call me mad. So they've locked me here in this cell -- till the time they can remove me to a sanitarium. Any moment now they'll come for me, whisk me off through the night. And my discovery will never be proved. People will laugh for a while, speak of the mad Dr. Terhune. Then I will forget. And for me -- no escape.


PRINCESS: (ECHO) Charles? Charles, my darling?

TERHUNE: Elena?! (REALIZES) No escape? No escape?! Oh, what a stupid fool I am! The moonbeam, of course! The moonbeam!




ANNOUNCER: "Men Call Me Mad," an original tale of Dark Fantasy by Scott Bishop. Ben Morris was heard as Dr. Charles Terhune, Eleanor Naylor Caughron was Princess Elena, Fred Wayne was King Londolier, Murillo Schofield was Dr. West, Muir Hite was Dr. Smith, and Daryl McAllister was the specialist. Next Friday night at the same time, the National Broadcasting Company will present another tale of Dark Fantasy, "The House of Bread," a strange and compelling drama of Christmas Nineteen Forty-One and that first Christmas nearly two thousand years ago, told to you by Scott Bishop.

Dark Fantasy originates in the studios of Station WKY in Oklahoma City. This is the National Broadcasting Company.