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Pebble in the Sky

Dimension X

Pebble in the Sky

Jun 17 1951



CAST:

HOST

ANNOUNCER

BEL ARVARDAN

PROCURATOR

YOUNG MAN

OLD MAN

POLA SHEKT

VOICE (2 lines)

GUARD

2ND GUARD (1 line)

CLAUDY

SERGEANT (1 line)

COLONEL

DR. SHEKT

3RD GUARD

BALKIS

PATROL

and various CROWDS




MUSIC: OMINOUS RUMBLE


HOST: Adventures in Time and Space, transcribed in Future Tense. 


MUSIC: CYMBAL CRASH!


ANNOUNCER: (HEAVY ECHO) DIMENSION X-x-x-x-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: The civilization of the Galaxy spread across two hundred million worlds. The black void of space swarmed with the ships of the Empire. But far off the trade routes, almost forgotten, lay the dying planet Earth, a backwater in Galactic culture, a place of exile, a pebble in the sky. 


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


SOUND: DESOLATE WIND BLOWS ... THEN IN BG, UNTIL END OF SCENE--


ARVARDAN: (NARRATES) I landed on Earth -- on the one spot which I would have called civilized, a patch along the desolate heights of the Himalayas that surrounded the palace of the Imperial governor of Earth. 


SOUND: DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES ... STEPS IN


PROCURATOR: Hmmm, Dr. Bel Arvardan of Sirius Sector. That's a familiar name. 


ARVARDAN: Perhaps you've seen it in the Galactic Archaeological Journal, my Lord Ennius. 


PROCURATOR: Me? No, no -- I'm a soldier, not a scientist. It was a newspaper article. You gave an interview about your expedition to Earth. (WITH CONTEMPT) Hmph! I suppose you want to start digging. Whatever can you find on this miserable heap of rubble? 


ARVARDAN: I don't consider Earth a miserable heap, my lord. It's absolutely unique in the Galaxy. 


PROCURATOR: Unique? 


ARVARDAN: It's the only inhabited planet that is radioactive.


PROCURATOR: It's a pigpen! 


ARVARDAN: Yes, I know. But this planet is inhabited. Biologists have proven that on a radioactive world high forms of life cannot develop. 


PROCURATOR: High forms? Heh! The rest of the Galaxy hates the Earthmen -- and they return it with interest. 


ARVARDAN: I don't think you understand. I'm not intolerant of anyone -- and that even includes Earthmen. My theory is that life on Earth originated before it was radioactive.


PROCURATOR: (DISMISSIVE) Ah! There's a story like that in the Earth lore of the Ancients. 


ARVARDAN: I know, I've read it. 


PROCURATOR: Oh? I wouldn't admit that here if I were you, Dr. Arvardan. It's forbidden for Outsiders to read it. The Earthmen get pretty violent about their religion. 


ARVARDAN: Do you mean the Imperial police power here is defective?


PROCURATOR: It is in case of sacrilege. Well, now -- what do you actually want to prove? 


ARVARDAN: That man originated in prehistoric times on Earth before space travel and spread to the other planets. 


PROCURATOR: (DISBELIEF) What? (LAUGHS) Are you seriously suggesting that at one time Earth was the only inhabited planet? And that man descended from - Earthmen? 


ARVARDAN: There's a chance it might be so. 


PROCURATOR: You'll change your mind when you see them, doctor. I'm not an anti-Terrestrial, but as far as I can see they're lazy and ignorant and generally inferior to us. I'm as liberal as the next man, but it's a fact: once an Earthman, always an Earthman.


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND ARVARDAN--


ARVARDAN: (NARRATES) I booked passage to the city of Chica on an Earth line. My fellow passengers seemed ordinary enough. But I was conscious of being alone among Earthmen.


SOUND: SMALL CROWD OF CHEERFUL, PARTYING PASSENGERS ... THEN IN BG, IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


ARVARDAN: I beg your pardon. Er, could you tell me what's going on there? 


YOUNG MAN: Er, sure. You see that couple? They've been married forty years. It's their anniversary. 


OLD MAN: (PROUDLY) Yes, sir! Forty years -- hey, mother? It seems like yesterday. Just like yesterday.


YOUNG MAN: Hey, when are you folks scheduled for the Sixty? 


OLD MAN: In a month. Sixteenth of November. 


YOUNG MAN: Well, I hope you have a nice day for it. My father reached his Sixty in a pouring rain. Kept complaining we were getting soaked. So I told him, "What are you complaining about, dad? I've gotta come back!"


SOUND: CROWD LAUGHS ... CONTINUES TO MURMUR HAPPILY IN BG


ARVARDAN: (PUZZLED, LOW, TO YOUNG MAN) Er, this, er-- This Sixty they're talking about. Are they referring to their sixtieth birthday? 


YOUNG MAN: (CASUALLY) Sure. That's when they put you away. Euthanasia. It's a custom. Can't have people living on; eats up all the food. (UP) That's right, isn't it, Pop? 


OLD MAN: Yes, sir. Mother's coming with me when I reach the Sixty. She's not due for a couple of months, but she thinks we might as well go together.


YOUNG MAN: Yeah, that's the spirit! (WITH DISAPPROVAL, TO ARVARDAN) There's many a man living past the Sixty. Sneaks! Stealing the food from the next generation. A guy should go when it's his time! 


ARVARDAN: Yes, but suppose he's-- 


YOUNG MAN: (INTERRUPTS) It's only fair to-- (SUDDENLY SUSPICIOUS) Hey, where are you from? 


SOUND: CROWD FALLS SILENT


ARVARDAN: I beg your pardon?


YOUNG MAN: Askin' all them questions. 


OLD MAN: (ALSO SUSPICIOUS) Yes, who are you? A spy? Where are you from? 


ARVARDAN: I'm Bel Arvardan from Baronn, Sirius Sector. 


YOUNG MAN: (UNHAPPY) Oh, an Outsider, huh? 


SOUND: CROWD REACTS WITH DISAPPROVAL


OLD MAN: (MOVING OFF, TO WIFE, WITH DISDAIN) Come on. We'll go forward. Did you hear that, mother? An Outsider! 


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND ARVARDAN--


ARVARDAN: (NARRATES) I burned with indignation: Earthmen treating me like an outcast. Earthmen! When we landed I followed my intention of observing the human animal, subspecies Earth, in its native habitat. In this case, a large department store.


SOUND: DEPARTMENT STORE BACKGROUND ... LARGE NOISY CROWD, ET CETERA


ARVARDAN: (NARRATES) Perhaps I resembled a floorwalker, for a young Earth girl came up to me and asked a question.


POLA: (DISTRESSED) Pardon me, but it's my father. He's about five-four. He wears eye lenses. I think he had on a brown coat. 


ARVARDAN: I'm afraid I don't remember seeing anyone.


POLA: (HALF TO HERSELF) But they followed me here. I've got to find him. 


ARVARDAN: Are you in trouble, miss? 


POLA: (UNEASY) Oh, no-- (FORCED LIGHTNESS) No, it's nothing really. I - I'm sorry I bothered you. 


VOICE: (OVER P.A.) Attention! Attention, please! 


SOUND: CROWD FALLS SILENT


ARVARDAN: (TO POLA) What's that?


VOICE: (OVER P.A.) All patrons in the store will kindly leave by the Fifth Street exit. This store is being evacuated for radiation fever quarantine.


SOUND: CROWD REACTS WITH DISMAY ... THEN BUSTLES NOISILY TOWARD THE EXIT IN BG


ARVARDAN: (TO POLA) What's all this about?


POLA: (WITH DREAD) They're after me. It isn't really radiation fever at all. 


ARVARDAN: Who's after you?


POLA: (HALF TO HERSELF) How am I going to get out of here? They'll be checking registration cards at the door. 


ARVARDAN: Haven't you got one? 


POLA: Yes, but it has my name on it. (TEARFUL) I - I don't know what to do.


ARVARDAN: Come on. 


SOUND: ARVARDAN AND POLA'S STEPS TO EXIT, IN BG


POLA: But you don't even know me. 


ARVARDAN: I don't know anybody here, but you're an interesting species-- (CORRECTS HIMSELF) --person. This way.


SOUND: CROWD MURMURS QUIETLY AS IT LINES UP AT THE EXIT, IN BG ... FOOTSTEPS IN A DELIBERATE, ORDERLY FASHION AS CROWD SLOWLY PASSES THROUGH CHECKPOINT, IN BG


GUARD: (OFF) Show your own cards! 


POLA: (GROANS WITH WORRY)


GUARD: (OFF) Come on! Step along! 


2ND GUARD: (OFF) Come on, step along.


GUARD: (OFF) Next! (LOOKS AT POLA'S CARD) Shekt! Wait a minute!


SOUND: CROWD FALLS SILENT ... THEIR STEPS OUT


GUARD: (OFF) Pola Shekt?


POLA: (INHALES, TENSE) Yes, sir? 


GUARD: (OFF) Stand right there! 


SOUND: GUARD'S STEPS TO ARVARDAN, IN BG--


ARVARDAN: Look here, officer-- 


GUARD: (INTERRUPTS) Are you with her?


ARVARDAN: Yes, but you'd better find out who I am. 


GUARD: (CLOSER) Later. Stand over there. (UP, TO CROWD) Next! Come on!


SOUND: CROWD RESUMES MURMURING AND WALKING ... THEN ALARM BELL RINGS ... CONTINUES IN BG


POLA: (STARTLED EXCLAMATION)


ARVARDAN: (TO POLA) What is that sound?


POLA: (STRICKEN) The Imperials!


ARVARDAN: Are you afraid of them?


POLA: Of course


ARVARDAN: (CONFIDENT) Don't worry about the Outsiders, Miss Shekt. I'll handle them.


POLA: Oh, no, don't try anything! Don't talk to them at all! Just do what they say! Don't even look at them.


ARVARDAN: We'll see. Here they are. 


SOUND: ALARM BELL OUT AS IMPERIAL VEHICLE DOORS OPEN AND TROOPERS' STEPS IN ... CROWD FALLS SILENT


CLAUDY: All right now. You --guard?


GUARD: Yes, sir? 


CLAUDY: I'm Lieutenant Claudy, Imperial garrison. Who's got the fever? 


GUARD: If it please, your Honor-- 


CLAUDY: Not so close, idiot. You might be infected. I'll take over. (SHARP, TO POLA) You -- Earthie -- what's your name? (NO ANSWER, IMPATIENT) Speak up, squaw. 


POLA: (MEEKLY POLITE) Pola Shekt, sir. 


CLAUDY: Registration papers?


SOUND: PAPERS HANDED OVER 


POLA: Here you are, sir. 


CLAUDY: (MOCK POLITE) Thank you.


SOUND: BEAT ... PAPERS DROPPED ON FLOOR 


CLAUDY: All right now. Pick them up. (NO RESPONSE) Go on. 


ARVARDAN: (PROTESTS) Say, look here now-- 


CLAUDY: What did you say, Earthie? 


POLA: (QUICKLY, NERVOUS) If you please, sir -- this man has nothing to do with me. I never saw him before.


CLAUDY: (INSISTS, TO ARVARDAN) What did you say? 


ARVARDAN: I don't like the way you treat women -- and I'd advise you to improve your manners.


SOUND: CROWD REACTS WITH QUIET SHOCK, BRIEFLY 


CLAUDY: (SNIDE) And where have you been brought up, Earthie? Here's lesson number one. (GRUNTS WITH EFFORT AS--)


SOUND: CLAUDY PUNCHES ARVARDAN


ARVARDAN: Why, you--


SOUND: CLAUDY AND ARVARDAN SCUFFLE ... ARVARDAN PUSHES CLAUDY TO FLOOR BEHIND--


CLAUDY: My arm! Let go! (CALLS, IN PAIN) Sergeant! Neuronic whip!


POLA: (HORRIFIED) Oh, no! No!


SERGEANT: Yes, sir.


SOUND: ZAP! AND CRACKLE! OF ELECTRIC WHIP


ARVARDAN: (GROANS IN PAIN)


MUSIC: BRIDGE


ARVARDAN: (WAKES, MURMURS)


POLA: (RELIEVED SIGH) Oh, you're all right now.


ARVARDAN: (GROANS, DAZED) What happened?


POLA: (SADLY) They gave you full power in the neuronic whip. 


ARVARDAN: Where are we? 


POLA: The military base. Oh, you shouldn't-- 


SOUND: WHIR! OF APPROACHING ELEVATOR, IN BG


ARVARDAN: Is that--? 


POLA: (STARTLED EXCLAMATION)


SOUND: ELEVATOR STOPS ... DOOR OPENS


SOUND: COLONEL'S STEPS IN


COLONEL: (DIPLOMATIC) Well, Dr. Arvardan, we seem to have had an unpleasant contretemps in this city this afternoon.


ARVARDAN: Unpleasant? I should put it stronger, colonel. As a free citizen of the Empire I had every right to resent such illegal treatment! 


COLONEL: (CLEARS THROAT) I consider the whole incident unfortunate, doctor. Don't you think it would be best to forget the whole matter? 


ARVARDAN: I think not. I have an appointment in a week with the Procurator.


COLONEL: (TAKEN ABACK) The Pro--? Procurator, eh? 


ARVARDAN: What do you intend doing with Miss Shekt? 


COLONEL: (CAREFULLY) Uh, what would you suggest, sir? I had, er-- 


ARVARDAN: Free her immediately -- and offer her your apologies.


COLONEL: Of course.


SOUND: THE COLONEL CLICKS HIS HEELS


COLONEL: (STIFFLY APOLOGETIC, TO POLA) If the young lady will accept my sincere regrets, I will give the order for your release immediately. 


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


SOUND: CITY TRAFFIC BACKGROUND ... ARVARDAN AND POLA' STEPS ON SIDEWALK ... THEN IN BG


POLA: But I don't understand. They just turned us loose. 


ARVARDAN: Of course.


POLA: You must be very important. I never heard of the Outsiders being that polite to an Earthman before. 


ARVARDAN: I'm not an Earthman, Pola.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS STOP 


POLA: (ASTONISHED) What? 


ARVARDAN: I'm an archaeologist from the Outside. 


POLA: (REALIZES, WITH DISAPPOINTMENT) Oh! Why, then you stood up to the soldiers because you knew it was safe all along. And I thought-- Oh, I should have known.


ARVARDAN: Pola, does my not being an Earthman make me any different from five minutes ago? 


POLA: (STIFFLY) You might have told me, sir. 


ARVARDAN: (QUIETLY) If you don't mind, don't call me "sir." Don't be like the rest of them. 


POLA: (BITTERLY) Like the rest of whom, sir? The rest of the disgusting animals that live on Earth? 


ARVARDAN: Please, Pola-- 


POLA: (MOVING OFF) If you'll excuse me, sir, I must leave!


SOUND: POLA'S HURRIED STEPS AWAY, IN BG


ARVARDAN: (CALLS AFTER HER) No, wait! Pola! Listen to me! Pola! 


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND ARVARDAN--


ARVARDAN: (NARRATES) I had access to the garrison files and, to satisfy idle curiosity, I indexed Pola Shekt. Her father was a Dr. Mikhail Shekt, biologist. And against his name was a black star with the notation "Condemned in absentia. Charge: evading the Sixty." That was why she was afraid. So I sent a note asking her to meet me in the North Park after dark. 


SOUND: PARK BACKGROUND (DISTANT INTERMITTENT TRAFFIC ROLLS BY) ... POLA'S STEPS APPROACH


ARVARDAN: (HUSHED) Pola! Over here! 


SOUND: POLA'S HURRIED STEPS TO ARVARDAN


POLA: (HUSHED) Dr. Arvardan? 


ARVARDAN: Sit down.


POLA: Oh, I - I want you to understand I wouldn't have come except-- 


ARVARDAN: (INTERRUPTS, GENTLY) I understand. I've seen your father's record. 


POLA: You know about it? 


ARVARDAN: I looked into it, Pola. There doesn't seem to be much that can be done about the Sixty.


POLA: Oh, it isn't that. It's not for my father. It's for the whole Galaxy. 


ARVARDAN: (PUZZLED) What is it? 


POLA: Earth is going to revolt.


ARVARDAN: (WITH A CHUCKLE, SKEPTICAL) No! All of it? 


POLA: Oh, don't laugh at--


ARVARDAN: (HIGHLY AMUSED) Pola, the Galaxy has a volume of several million cubic light-years. It contains two hundred million inhabited planets. Earth has a population of only twenty million -- and no resources. What can Earth do? 


POLA: I don't know, doctor, but my father does. He's told me that Earth knows a way by which it can wipe out all Outside life and-- 


SOUND: FOOTSTEPS APPROACH THROUGH PARK, IN BG


POLA: (HUSHED) Wait. Listen.


ARVARDAN: Hm?


POLA: There's someone coming. Park patrol. Quick, kiss me! 


ARVARDAN: Hm?


POLA: Don't be stupid. Kiss me! They won't suspect anything.


ARVARDAN: Oh. Oh, yes, of course.


SOUND: FOOTSTEPS DRAW NEAR, THEN DEPART


ARVARDAN: (COMES OUT OF A DEEP KISS, LOVINGLY) Pola--


POLA: (EXHALES, GULPS) They've gone. It's all right. Now come with me. I'll take you to my father.


MUSIC: BRIDGE


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES ... STEPS IN


DR. SHEKT: Dr. Arvardan, this is a pleasure. I have read your articles in the Journal. It is hard to get copies. Our neighbors don't care to trade with Earth. It's part of the nearly insoluble problem of anti-Terrestrialism. 


ARVARDAN: No one seems to want a solution -- Earthmen and Outsiders alike.


DR. SHEKT: (AMUSED) Oh, no, that is not true. There is a way of preserving our culture and living as equals in a larger society, but the Zealots don't think so. 


ARVARDAN: The Zealots?


DR. SHEKT: Yes! They rule Earth now. They are a small minority, but they have power. They have plans. 


ARVARDAN: They planned the revolt Pola told me of?


DR. SHEKT: Yes.


ARVARDAN: I see. Why didn't you report this to the Imperial garrison? 


DR. SHEKT: The Society of Earth Ancients have guarded me too well. Besides they had a hold on me: I am sixty-two. You know the customs of Earth? 


ARVARDAN: The Sixty? Yes. 


DR. SHEKT: They allowed me to live on. The price was silence about the weapon. 


ARVARDAN: You agreed to this?


DR. SHEKT: (BEAT, SIMPLY) I wanted to live.


ARVARDAN: What is this weapon?


DR. SHEKT: You are aware of Earth's peculiar environment -- the radioactivity? 


ARVARDAN: Yes.


DR. SHEKT: Over the years we Earthmen have built up certain immunities -- to radiation burns, for one. 


ARVARDAN: But it's a minute difference. I measured it experimentally.


DR. SHEKT: Oh, but, doctor, human life is not the only form affected by radiation and mutation. There is microscopic life -- bacteria, viruses. We have been searching out such a virus -- one to which Earthmen have developed a high degree of immunity, but not Outsiders. 


ARVARDAN: You mean - a particular disease? 


DR. SHEKT: Yes. Common fever. It is a mild children's disease here, like chickenpox or German measles, but to Outsiders it is radiation fever. Symptoms develop in two hours. Lips are so badly affected that the victim cannot talk. And in two days he dies. 


ARVARDAN: They've isolated this virus? 


DR. SHEKT: Tons of it, in crystalline form. 


ARVARDAN: And they plan to let this loose in the Galaxy? 


DR. SHEKT: By means of guided missiles. Then frightened refugees will carry the disease across space. Billions will die. 


ARVARDAN: You're sure about this? You have proof? 


DR. SHEKT: I worked on the project. 


ARVARDAN: We've got to get to the Procurator. I can catch the evening plane and--


SOUND: KNOCKING ON DOOR ... DR. SHEKT AND ARVARDAN LOWER THEIR VOICES


ARVARDAN: (PUZZLED, TO SHEKT) Who is it? 


DR. SHEKT: I don't know. 


3RD GUARD: (BEHIND DOOR) Open up!


DR. SHEKT: (SURPRISED, TO ARVARDAN) There should have been an alarm. 


SOUND: MORE KNOCKING 


ARVARDAN: We've got to get out. Is there a back entrance?


POLA: No.


3RD GUARD: (BEHIND DOOR) Open up in there!


SOUND: SPLINTER! AND SMASH! OF DOOR KNOCKED DOWN


POLA: (STARTLED EXCLAMATION)


3RD GUARD: Don't move! Hands in front of you!


ARVARDAN: (UP) What's the meaning of this? I demand an exp--


3RD GUARD: Shut up!


ARVARDAN: I'm a Galactic citizen! You've got no right to detain me without legal authority!


BALKIS: (APPROACHES, COOL AND CALM) I am an Earthman, but I think you'll find I am all the authority needed at this moment, Dr. Arvardan. I am Balkis, the High Minister of Earth.


ARVARDAN: The High Minister? What are you doing--? 


BALKIS: (INTERRUPTS) I always look after distinguished visitors personally. 


DR. SHEKT: Arvardan does not know anything. 


BALKIS: I doubt that, Dr. Shekt. We will proceed now to the Hall of Corrections.


POLA: (GASPS) 


ARVARDAN: You can't do this! When the Procurator--


BALKIS: (INTERRUPTS) The Procurator will hear nothing until it is too late. The guided missiles will be fired tonight at twelve. (POINTEDLY OMINOUS) Guard, if they make a false move--


MUSIC: OMINOUS BRIDGE


SOUND: BALKIS, 3RD GUARD, POLA AND ARVARDAN'S STEPS ON SIDEWALK, IN BG ... POLA AND ARVARDAN WHISPER TENSELY TO EACH OTHER, IN AGREEMENT WITH--


BALKIS: Keep them covered, guard.


3RD GUARD: Right.


ARVARDAN: (HUSHED) Pola, can you scream? 


POLA: (PUZZLED) What are you--?


ARVARDAN: There! Coming down the street. Imperial Patrol. 


POLA: Oh, it's no use.


ARVARDAN: Do what I say. Scream. Go ahead.


POLA: (BLOODCURDLING SCREAM!)


PATROL: (OFF) Stop! [?] --you there!


SOUND: STEPS OUT WITH--


BALKIS: (HUSHED, TO 3RD GUARD) Hold it! They're Outsiders.


3RD GUARD: You're right. 


ARVARDAN: That's the Imperial Patrol. 


SOUND: PATROL'S STEPS APPROACH


PATROL: (CLOSER) All right, Earthies. What's going on here?


BALKIS: (SMOOTH) Good morning, sergeant.


PATROL: (CORRECTS BALKIS HIGH-HANDEDLY) "Sir," Earthie? 


BALKIS: You don't understand. I'm Balkis, the Lord High Minister of Earth. 


PATROL: Listen, Earthie, I don't care who you are. What's going on? 


BALKIS: Yes, sir. We, er-- We've arrested these people.


PATROL: What charge?


BALKIS: Blasphemy. 


PATROL: (EYES THEM) Hmm. (BEAT) All right, get moving. 


BALKIS: Thank you. 


ARVARDAN: Sergeant--? 


PATROL: What do you want, Earthie?


ARVARDAN: I'm a Galactic citizen. I demand the right--


PATROL: (QUIETLY AMUSED) You? (LAUGHS)


BALKIS: (CHUCKLES, SMOOTH) May we proceed, sir? 


ARVARDAN: Listen, sergeant -- I have something more to say to you. 


PATROL: What?


ARVARDAN: This! 


SOUND: ARVARDAN PUNCHES PATROL


PATROL: (GRUNTS IN PAIN, THEN SURPRISED) Why--! (QUIETLY GRIM) No Earthie's going to get away with this. (CALLS ANGRILY, TO SOLDIER) Get a squad car! 


SOUND: SOLDIER'S HURRIED STEPS AWAY, IN BG


BALKIS: (QUICK, DESPERATE) But, sergeant, I'm the Lord Minister of Earth--


PATROL: (INTERRUPTS, CURT) Tell 'em about it at the Imperial barracks. Now, move, all of you -- before I give you a shot of the whip!


MUSIC: BRIDGE


ARVARDAN: I tell you, I'm a citizen of the Empire! 


PATROL: Listen--


ARVARDAN: I can prove it! You'll get into a lot of trouble if you don't believe me. 


PATROL: (BEAT, CONSIDERS) I'll admit no Earthie would dare spit in my face. 


ARVARDAN: It was the only way I could get to the garrison. I insist on seeing the Officer of the Day. 


PATROL: I sent for him. You'd better have a good story.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS, OFF ... STEPS IN ... SOLDIERS COME TO ATTENTION WITH--


PATROL: A-ten-shun!


CLAUDY: (OFF) At ease. 


SOUND: CLAUDY'S STEPS TO ARVARDAN


CLAUDY: (CLOSER) Which one of you claims he's a citizen of the Empire? 


ARVARDAN: I am.


POLA: (QUIETLY DISMAYED) Bel, it's the one from the store.


CLAUDY: (QUIETLY PLEASED) You, eh? The smart louse that broke my arm. Well, well, well. 


ARVARDAN: I've got to see the colonel, lieutenant. 


CLAUDY: Now, Dr. Arvardan, I could hardly do that unless it's important. 


ARVARDAN: It is important. It's life and death for the Galaxy. 


CLAUDY: (NONCOMMITTAL) Mm hm. Come here.


SOUND: ARVARDAN TAKES A COUPLE OF STEPS 


CLAUDY: Closer. 


SOUND: ARVARDAN TAKES A COUPLE OF STEPS ... CLAUDY SOCKS ARVARDAN IN THE STOMACH


ARVARDAN: (GROANS)


SOUND: ARVARDAN SLUMPS TO FLOOR


CLAUDY: Oh, it's too bad I've got to save you for the colonel. 


ARVARDAN: What? 


CLAUDY: He'll see you at five-thirty -- his orders.


ARVARDAN: You--? You knew all along? 


CLAUDY: Sure. Come on, Earthie-lover.


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


COLONEL: I'm afraid you're in serious trouble, Dr. Arvardan. The man you're accusing is the High Minister for Earth. 


ARVARDAN: I know, but I have proof. 


COLONEL: Well? 


ARVARDAN: I can only speak to the Procurator. You've got to contact him.


COLONEL: There are channels, Dr. Arvardan. 


ARVARDAN: We haven't time for channels! I have the details of the plot from Dr. Shekt. You've got to let me speak to the Procurator. 


COLONEL: I've already advised him of your arrest. He's flying in. You'd better be able to prove what you say. If you don't, we'll have to hand you back to the native authorities -- and their courts are notoriously savage. 


MUSIC: BRIDGE 


PROCURATOR: Well, Arvardan, I've called you here with His Excellency, the High Minister for Earth.


ARVARDAN: My lord, this man is behind the whole plot. 


PROCURATOR: Is he? 


ARVARDAN: There's no time to lose. I've explained to you about the virus. They're shooting off the guided missiles at twelve. You've got to take action.


PROCURATOR: (TO BALKIS) Well, your Excellency? 


BALKIS: My lord, if this man has any evidence-- 


ARVARDAN: (INTERRUPTS) You admitted it this afternoon! 


BALKIS: You have no witness to that.


ARVARDAN: Ask Dr. Shekt! He worked on the virus! 


BALKIS: I wouldn't say that Shekt lied, my lord, but he is a criminal -- wanted for evading the Sixty -- and some men will invent any story to avoid death. 


ARVARDAN: The deadline is midnight! You've got to bomb those temples where the launching sites are! 


BALKIS: Perhaps I can explain. According to my information, Dr. Arvardan seems to have succumbed to a certain Earth girl -- the daughter of the unfortunate Dr. Shekt. 


PROCURATOR: Is this true, Arvardan? 


ARVARDAN: What does that got to do with it?! There isn't any time! You've got to--!


PROCURATOR: (INTERRUPTS) Dr. Arvardan, are you in love with that girl?


ARVARDAN: (BEAT, CONCEDES) Yes -- yes. Will you listen to me--?!


PROCURATOR: (TO BALKIS) I don't think we need pursue this any further, your Excellency. I shall order you released with an apology. 


ARVARDAN: No! 


PROCURATOR: Dr. Arvardan, I can hardly believe a degenerate who fraternizes with Earth women. 


ARVARDAN: You scum! You pot-bellied scum!


PROCURATOR: I warn you, Arvardan -- you're in trouble enough. 


ARVARDAN: I'm in trouble?! You fool! You stupid blind bigoted fool! You're destroying the Galaxy! You're murdering them all! (WITH EFFORT) But before I die I'll have the pleasure of smashing your fat ugly face!


SOUND: ARVARDAN SCUFFLES WITH PROCURATOR


PROCURATOR: (IN PAIN) Let me - go! Guard -- get the whip!


SOUND: ZAP! AND CRACKLE! OF ELECTRIC WHIP ... IN AND BEHIND--


ARVARDAN: (HOWLS IN PAIN, SWOONS TO UNCONSCIOUSNESS)


MUSIC: BRIDGE


ARVARDAN: (WAKES, GROANS)


POLA: Bel, are you all right? 


ARVARDAN: Pola--? What time is it? 


POLA: One-thirty. Past the deadline. It's all over. Lord Ennius released the High Minister with an apology.


ARVARDAN: (RESIGNED) Doesn't matter. The Empire can wipe Earth out and it won't save any lives. The virus must have been spread here, too. Earthmen are immune, but Outsiders--


POLA: (REALIZES) Bel--? You're an Outsider. 


ARVARDAN: Yes-- 


POLA: (SADLY) Ohhh. 


ARVARDAN: --I am. (BEAT) We're paying, Pola -- the rest of us. Paying for centuries of intolerance. 


POLA: Oh, Bel--


SOUND: STEPS TO WINDOW


ARVARDAN: (SLOWLY) Look out there. Through the bars. The night sky. Pinpoints of light. The Empire. Doomed. (SUDDENLY CHUCKLES)


POLA: (SURPRISED) Oh, Bel--! Bel, don't.


ARVARDAN: (SLOWLY) I was just thinking. I came to Earth to prove a theory: that man started here. That once in prehistoric times, Earth was the only populated world of the Galaxy. It's funny. Now it will be that way again. Man living only on Earth. They'll forget the science, the machinery of the Empire. They'll forget the stars. There will be only Earth. Alone in the universe. A pebble - in the sky.


MUSIC: CURTAIN ... THEN OMINOUS PERCUSSION IN BG


HOST: The children of tomorrow will play with toys. But what will those toys be like? An ordinary clerk in an ordinary job finds a terrifying answer to that question next week as DIMENSION X brings you "Child's Play." 


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


ANNOUNCER: DIMENSION X is transcribed 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 "Pebble in the Sky," dramatized for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in the cast were Santos Ortega as Arvardan and Susan Douglas as Pola. Your host was Norman Rose. Music by Bert Buhrmann. DIMENSION X is produced by William Welch and directed by Edward King. 


MUSIC: OMINOUS FUTURISTIC PERCUSSION ... THEN OUT


NBC ANNCR: This is NBC the National Broadcasting Company.


MUSIC: NBC CHIMES


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