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The Cave of Night

X Minus One

The Cave of Night

Feb 01 1956



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

NBC ANNCR (1 line)


HARRY ANDERS, broadcast journalist

CHARLIE, engineer (1 line)

REV McMILLEN, Air Force pilot; Texan

HAM OPERATOR, Midwesterner (2 lines)

MIKE BAYLISS, veteran reporter; New York

OFFICER

REPORTER

SENATOR, posturing Southerner

GENERAL FINCH, dignified

VOICE (1 line)

AGENT




NBC ANNCR: In just a moment, X MINUS ONE, but first, how does one man get himself into so many impossible situations? This is a question you'll probably ask yourself tomorrow night when you follow another hilarious adventure of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve. Yes, Gildy's eye for the ladies and his impulsive temperament manage to entangle him in a web of riotous circumstances. Join the romantic water commissioner, his neighbors Judge Hooker, Mr. Peavey, and all the loyal Gildersleeve household, as they romp through another episode of THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE, tomorrow night. Now stay tuned for X MINUS ONE on NBC.


SOUND: HIGH-PITCHED ELECTRONIC HUM ... JOINED BY ELECTRONIC BEEPING IN AGREEMENT WITH COUNTDOWN


ANNOUNCER: Countdown for blast-off. X minus five, four, three, two. X minus one. Fire.


SOUND: A MOMENT'S SILENCE ... THEN ROCKET SHIP BLASTS OFF


MUSIC: BUILDS VERTIGINOUSLY TO A CLIMAX ... THEN IN BG


ANNOUNCER: From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future, adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine, presents -- (HEAVY ECHO) X Minus One!


MUSIC: TO A CLIMAX ... THEN OUT


ANNOUNCER: Tonight's story, "The Cave of Night" by James E. Gunn.


SOUND: SCENE CUTS IN


ANDERS: (IN CASUAL CONVERSATION WITH ENGINEER) You want a level, Charlie? -- Okay. (RECITES, WITH DIFFICULTY) Uhhh, "Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death. The memory be--" Well, anyway. How's it? Okay?


CHARLIE: (FILTER, VERY FAINTLY) Okay. 


ANDERS: Okay. Uh, check recording, will ya? I may go over a half hour. Make sure they've got another reel of tape ready. Okay? -- All right, uh-- 


(TO PRODUCER) Look, Bill, I've just put the segments of tape together for the next week's show. I'm going to record my narrations and we'll listen to it together tomorrow. I know this is unusual, but you're the producer and I don't want you out on a limb that may be sawed off behind us. This week's show is liable to either win us every award from the Peabody to the Pulitzer Prize or maybe put the network out of business. Okay, we, uh-- We start with the standard opening, "Behind the World," et cetera, forty seconds. 


(BEAT, CLEARS THROAT, BEGINS NARRATION) This is Harry Anders, your editor. At eight o'clock, after the sun is set and the sky is darkening, look up. There's a man up there where no man has ever been. He is lost in the cave of night.


SOUND: TAPE SEGMENT #1 ... CUT TO BURST OF ROUGH RADIO STATIC, WHICH CONTINUES BEHIND McMILLEN--


McMILLEN: (FILTER, TENSE) --and the fuel tanks empty. -- 'ceiver broken. Transmitting in clear. Anyone picking this up -- anyone -- this is Rev McMillen calling. Notify Goddard Rock, New Mexico. There's no way to get back.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) There's a man up there where no man has ever been. He is lost in the cave of night. We all know that phrase now, "the cave of night." It was written by a poet disguised in the cynical hide of a newspaper rewrite man, but it stuck. It caught the world and held it like a butterfly pinned to a board. It started with a ham -- an amateur radio operator -- in Davenport, Iowa. (CASUAL, TO ANOTHER ENGINEER) Er, all right, Eddie. Roll the first tape in here. -- It's marked.


SOUND: SQUEAK OF REEL-TO-REEL TAPE ROLLING BACKWARD BRIEFLY ... THEN FORWARD FOR SEGMENT #2 ... AN EXCERPT OF ANDERS' INTERVIEW WITH THE HAM OPERATOR


OPERATOR: Am I too close? 


ANDERS: (MUMBLES) That's all right.


OPERATOR: (CLEARS THROAT) I was up in the attic. I usually have a talk with W-G-Seven-Three -- he's in Buenos Aires; we play chess. Well, uh, there was some kind of interference. And then all of a sudden I heard this voice. I record most of my listening anyway, so I had the tape machine running. After I heard it, I called Civil Defense. That's what we're supposed to, if-- 


SOUND: FAST FADE OUT AS SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (TO PRODUCER) Uh, look, Bill. I haven't done the final editing on these tapes, so don't worry if they're a little rough. (NARRATES, A LITTLE POMPOUSLY) Down out of the night, flung from the darkness, came these words -- the first of so many that electrified the world.


SOUND: SEGMENT #3 ... CUT IN STATIC, WHICH CONTINUES BEHIND McMILLEN--


McMILLEN: (FILTER, URGENT) Notify Goddard Rock, New Mexico. There's no way to get back. No way to get back; I'm stuck up here. No way to get down.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) What does it take to catch the pity of the world? A man wedged underground in Kentucky. A little girl in the bottom of a well. Somebody alive, waiting for rescue, with the days of his life numbered. Somebody somewhere, waiting -- for us to get him out. The story broke in this morning's papers. Orbiting one thousand miles above our heads was a man, an officer of the United States Air Force, in a fuelless spaceship.


SOUND: SEGMENT #4 ... CUT TO NEWSROOM BACKGROUND (TELETYPE, OCCASIONAL RINGING PHONE, ET CETERA)


ANDERS: We're recording at the desk of Mike Bayliss, senior night editor of the Continental Press national wire.


BAYLISS: (CLEARS THROAT) They always get a reaction like this. I remember the Floyd Collins story in the twenties -- fellow trapped in that cave in Kentucky, remember? 


ANDERS: Oh, sure.


BAYLISS: With the whole country hanging on to see if he could get out. Then there was that little girl stuck in the well -- Kathy Fiscus?


ANDERS: Yeah.


BAYLISS: Yeah. We pulled all those stories out and put 'em on the wire for background. Well, this hit bigger. We got the first lead from an Air Force handout in New Mexico. They just said an experimental rocket failed to return to base. But by that time, the cat was out of the bag. Ham operators picked up those messages from Boston to Fairbanks, Alaska. 


ANDERS: Mr. Bayliss, you first used the phrase "the cave of night," didn't you?


BAYLISS: Hm? (CHUCKLES) Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. I mean, you know -- you gotta get a little purple on a thing like this. People eat it up. Ya can't spread it on too thick. Anyway, I was lost in a cave once when I was a kid in upstate New York. I waited around for a couple of hours in the dark until they came for me. It - it, uh, kinda reminded me of that.


SOUND: NEWSROOM BACKGROUND ABRUPTLY OUT AS SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) It reminded the world of terrors at night. Of struggling awake through nightmares. The fears of loneliness, darkness, falling, suffocation, thirst. It reminded me of Rev McMillen. Perhaps I have an advantage over all the other reporters for newspapers and radio and television, because I knew Rev McMillen. I knew him in college and in the Air Force. I knew that he was testing rocket-powered craft at Goddard, but I didn't know they were so close to space. No one knew. Till those messages of desperation crackled down through the atmosphere. I remembered Rev when I saw those headlines that morning. Straight black hair, Clark Gable ears, a reckless grin. He ate well, reveled in expert jazz and Mozart opera, and he talked incessantly. His Southern speech was no drawl; there was too much to say. And now he was alone. And soon, all that might be extinguished. The men from the radio newsrooms rushed to Goddard Rocket Base armed with miniature tape recorders.


SOUND: SEGMENT #5 ... CUT TO MURMURING CROWD OF REPORTERS ... THEN IN BG


OFFICER: Gentlemen, uh--


REPORTER: (TO REPORTERS) Hold it down, fellas.


SOUND: CROWD FALLS SILENT BEHIND--


OFFICER: --I'm, uh-- I am Colonel Arthur J. Hannigan, information officer for Goddard Rocket Base, and I'm authorized to issue the following statement. (READS) "First Lieutenant Reverdy L. McMillen, United States Air Force pilot, Experimental Rocket division, took off from Goddard Base at Twenty-Two Thirty-Four, Rocky Mountain Time. His craft -- the X-R Thirty-Seven, Mark II -- a hydrazine-nitric three-stage rocket--" (AN ASIDE, CHUCKLES) I'm sorry I can't describe it, boys. Classified.


SOUND: A HANDFUL OF REPORTERS MURMUR A REACTION


OFFICER: (RESUMES) Well, "in order to maintain orbit, the motors were pulsed for one second every fifteen seconds elapsed time. After three minutes, the exhaust was seen, by ground spectroscope observation, to flare for half a minute. His fuel supply is exhausted. The craft has reached sustaining orbital speed."


REPORTER: What does that mean, Colonel?


OFFICER: He's out of gas. He can't get down.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) The first mobilization was of the scientific brains massed at Goddard. Few of them knew Rev. Brains at a research project are usually carefully sorted out, then salted away from the distractions of the outside world. They designed, they invented, they calibrated and theorized. But they didn't know the short stocky man with the lopsided grin who rode the fruit of their labor up and out, and now circled the world of his birth with time ticking out. I covered the hearings in Washington for the network newsroom. I flew down from New York, and the stewardess came out every few minutes to tell the passengers the latest news. She called him Rev although she never knew him, and once I thought I saw a tear. The hearing was before the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs -- presiding, Senator Alan J. Hagister of Kentucky.


SOUND: SEGMENT #6 ... CUT TO MURMURING CROWD, WHICH QUIETS BEHIND--


SENATOR: (CLEARS THROAT, POSTURING) All right. General Finch, you've made the technical situation fairly comprehensive, even to an old canebrake redneck hillbilly like myself.


SOUND: SOME IN THE CROWD CHUCKLE

 

GENERAL: (UNAMUSED) I have tried to make the gravity of the situation apparent, sir.


SENATOR: It appears to me, General, that the sacred life of a human bein', created in the image of his Maker, is in danger. It's no light thing to be thrown away like some guinea pig. If that ship wasn't safe-- If that poor man up there in the cave of night is to die, somebody is responsible! Isn't that right, General?


GENERAL: Sir, a manned rocket was sent up because of one simple fact. It takes a computer of tremendous versatility and capacity to operate a Harrison-Munch reactor engine -- a computer of infinite complexity--


SENATOR: (INTERRUPTS, TOO QUICKLY) And I ask you, General! I'll put the question to ya! Why was such a computer not designed?!


GENERAL: (PATIENTLY) It has been designed, sir. It was designed a half a million years ago. There is only one mechanism competent to handle those controls, sir. That is the human brain.


SENATOR: (EMBARRASSED, CLEARS THROAT, CHANGES SUBJECT) All right. I turn now to my second question, General. (POSTURING AGAIN) And I ask it not only for myself and my colleagues on this committee, but for one hundred and seventy million Americans listenin' on the radio, watchin' on television. With that man up there livin' out his last days, why was it not possible to send a ship up after him?! Why was there no second ship built?!


GENERAL: For one reason, Senator. Money. The appropriation for rocket research fell short by twelve percent of the amount needed even to build one vessel. Well, frankly, gentlemen, the deficiency was made up by cutting corners and diverting funds from other projects.


SENATOR: That is not the point, General. There's a man out there who's goin' to die.


GENERAL: With the limited funds you gave us, we have done what we set out to do. We've demonstrated that space flight is possible, that a space platform is feasible. If there is any inefficiency, if there is any blame for what has happened, it lies at the door of those who lacked the confidence and the courage and ability of their countrymen to fight free of Earth to their greatest glory. (BEAT, SLOW AND POINTED) Senator, how did you vote on that?


SENATOR: (EMBARRASSED, CLEARS THROAT)


SOUND: CROWD MURMURS ITS REACTION ... GAVEL BANGS THREE TIMES ... SEGMENT ENDS


MUSIC: SEGMENT #7 ... CUT TO BRIEF BURST OF ORGAN MUSIC ... THEN CUT ABRUPTLY TO--


ANDERS: (ECHO, HUSHED) This is Harry Anders in the gallery of the Washington National Cathedral. This is a special prayer service called by the dean of the cathedral for the safety of Lieutenant McMillen and for the success of the recently announced rescue plan. The church is filled. There's a sprinkling of high Navy, Army, and Air Force uniforms. I see General Finch in the second row, next to the Secretary of the Air Force and the newly appointed Undersecretary of Defense, Mr. Winnaker. Prominently displayed in the center aisle below the ornate railing separating the pews from the altar, is the small model of McMillen's ship. One by one now, the congregation is filing past, dropping checks, bills. I saw one child drop in twelve pennies, one by one. All contributions are to be used to defray the cost of the rescue effort.


SOUND: PAUSE AS LARGE CONGREGATION GETS DOWN ON ITS KNEES


ANDERS: (ECHO, HUSHED) The congregation is now kneeling to pray. A moment of silent prayer will follow for the safety and rescue of Lieutenant McMillen.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) One billion dollars was raised in one week from voluntary contributions. Another billion and a half was appropriated unanimously by Congress. The race began. Would the rescue party reach the ship in time? Of course, we didn't know then. And daily we listened to the voice of the man we hoped to buy back from death. (TO PRODUCER) Now, look, Bill. On these McMillen broadcast tapes, uh-- Don't let some - some ignorant engineering vice-president holler because it's not broadcast quality. Believe me, I knew McMillen. There's more of that wild Texan in these tapes than in any - any hi-fi super-frequency response studio recordings. Just listen; you'll see what I mean.


MUSIC: SEGMENT #8 ... RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


McMILLEN: (FILTER, TALKING TO STAY SANE) I've been staring out the portholes. I never tire of it. Through the window at the right, I see a black velvet curtain with a strong light behind it. There are pinpoint holes in the curtain and the light shines through, not winking the way stars do, but steady. There's no air up here; that's the reason. 


My oxygen is holding out better than I expected. By my figures, it should last twenty-seven days more. I shouldn't use so much of it talking all the time, but it's hard to stop. Talking, I feel as if I was still in touch with the Earth, still one of you -- even though I am way up here.


Too bad the receiver is broken, but if it had to be one or the other, I'm glad it was the transmitter that came through all right. There's only one of me. There are billions of you to talk to. You can't see me now. You'll have to wait hours for the dawn. I'll have mine in a few minutes.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) That's the way he talked. And as we listened to the lonely voice from the night, the engineers, the scientists, the construction men worked 'round the clock. General Finch presented the problem in the pool interview. I asked the questions for the combined networks that afternoon. Most of you heard the complete broadcast live as he briefed the world with the clipped, laconic delivery of a soldier.


MUSIC: SEGMENT #9 ... CUT TO PRESS BRIEFING BACKGROUND ... STENOTYPE AND OTHER RECORDING MACHINES, IN BG ... OCCASIONAL MUMBLE OR THROAT CLEARING FROM REPORTERS IN BG


GENERAL: There are two basic problems. We've recovered the first and second stages of the rocket. We've only to construct the third stage. The second problem is more difficult -- the pilot. Lieutenant McMillen was the only man physically and psychologically qualified. We discovered that in our first program. His training and orientation took eighteen months. We have now to duplicate this in twenty-seven days.


ANDERS: (OFF) Do you think it's possible, General?


GENERAL: I don't know. (FINISHES UP) Ah, that's all, Mr. Anders.


SOUND: GENERAL PUSHES MICROPHONE AWAY


GENERAL: (TO AIDE, QUICKLY) Uh, Stevenson, get me some coffee, will ya? Black; and some kind of sandwich; no butter, no mayonnaise.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) And then the voice from the cave asked a question -- and expected no answer.


MUSIC: SEGMENT #10 ... RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


McMILLEN: (FILTER) Do you hear me down there? Sometimes I wonder. I wish there were some way I could be sure you were hearing me. Just that one thing might keep me from going crazy.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS


ANDERS: (NARRATES) I was there the night we answered that question. I was there in a helicopter over Kansas City.


MUSIC: SEGMENT #11 ... HELICOPTER INTERIOR BACKGROUND


ANDERS: (FILTER) This is Harry Anders speaking to you from a helicopter over Kansas City. There are fifteen seconds till midnight. The plan was developed by General Finch. At precisely midnight every light in the city will be out and then flashed on in two-second intervals. This will be the exact moment that McMillen's ship is calculated to pass overhead. It's almost time now. Five, four, three, two, one. There they go. Off. (BEAT) On. (BEAT) Off. (BEAT) On. (BEAT) Off. (BEAT) On. 


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ABRUPTLY ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #12 ... RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


McMILLEN: (FILTER, SURPRISED AND DEEPLY MOVED; SLOWLY) I see it! I see it; Kansas City winking at me. Oh, yes, I can see it. Thanks. Thanks. You're listening. I know that now. I'm not alone. I'll never forget. I'm waiting for you.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ABRUPTLY ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #13 ... CONSTRUCTION NOISE ... THEN IN BG


ANDERS: (SOME ECHO) We're recording in the press gallery of the Goddard Rocket Base main construction hangar. The vast third-stage component stands before us; men swarming up and down the gantry cranes. The Mark III is being built to carry five men instead of one. The pilot selection has been kept to Top Secret to avoid unnecessary strain on the men selected. The latest progress report gives a possible margin of six hours between the launching of the rescue ship and the estimated exhaustion supply of oxygen to Lieutenant McMillen.


SOUND: SIGNAL FOR SHIFT CHANGE ... CONTINUES IN BG


ANDERS: Oh, the shift is changing now. The expert construction workers recruited from across the country are the combined efforts of the Air Force personnel service, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the International United Electrical Workers and United Auto Workers of the AFL-CIO. The margin is six hours. Six hours between life and death for Lieutenant Reverdy L. McMillen.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ABRUPTLY ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #14 ... RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


McMILLEN: (FILTER, PHILOSOPHICAL) An hour ago, I saw the sun rise over Russia. Looks like any other land from here -- the green where it should be green, farther north a sort of mud color, and then white where the snow is still deep. Up here, you wonder why we're so different when the land is the same. You think: we're all the same children of the same mother planet. Who says we're different?


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ABRUPTLY ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #15 ... MURMURING CROWD OF REPORTERS, WHICH GROWS QUIET BEHIND--


GENERAL: (TOO CLOSE TO MIKE) Uh, can you hear me in the back?


REPORTER: (OFF) Ah, you're standin' a little close.


GENERAL: (BACKS UP A LITTLE) Well, uh-- How 'bout this?


REPORTER: (OFF) Yeah. Fine. 


ANDERS: (OFF) That's better, that's better.


GENERAL: (ON MIKE) All right, gentlemen, I have exactly five minutes for the press conference, therefore I'm not going to answer any questions. Progress report is as follows. (READS) "As a safety factor, we're constructing two complete three-stage rockets and six additional third-stage components. The telemetered reports from McMillen's ship have added important additional information, and the first of the rescue vessels should be ready to be launched at the estimated time, weather permitting." (UP) Now, don't ask a question. (READS) "Within certain limitations of air turbulence, the rocket'll be ready to lift in time to save Lieutenant McMillen."


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #16 ... RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


McMILLEN: (FILTER) Twenty-one days. The air's bad tonight. Can't seem to get a full breath; it seems to stick in the lungs. Doesn't matter, though. But I wish you could see what I've seen. The vast-spreading universe around Earth, like a bride in a soft veil. You'd know then that we belong out here. Come out, mankind. Come out and see what I have seen.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ... FADE IN SEGMENT #17 ... ROAR OF ROCKET ENGINE ... THEN IN BG


ANDERS: This is Harry Anders at Goddard Rocket Base. The Harrison-Munch reactor engine for the first third-stage rescue is being tested here at Goddard. You can hear the roaring of the gases in the test chamber behind me. The work has been stepped up as a new calculation based on the increased temperature reading from McMillen's ship indicates that the exhaustion time will be some six hours earlier than originally estimated. The margin of rescue will be in minutes.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #18 ... RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


McMILLEN: (FILTER, KNOWS THE END IS NEAR) Air very bad. Better hurry. Can't last much longer. (LIGHTLY) Silly! Of course you'll hurry. (MORE SERIOUS, SLOWLY) But I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I've seen the stars clearly. But more than this, I've seen the Earth -- there, where I have lived and loved. I have known it better than any man, and loved it better, and known its children better. Goodbye. I have a better tomb than the greatest conqueror Earth ever bore. Do not disturb.


SOUND: STATIC CONTINUES A MOMENT FOR PUNCTUATION ... THEN CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #19


VOICE: (FILTER) Countdown for blast-off. Five, four, three, two, one.


SOUND: ROCKET BLASTS OFF ... SEGMENT ENDS ... CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #20 ... STEADY BEEP OF RADAR ... THEN IN BG


ANDERS: (INTO MIKE) Anders, Tape Three-Two-Three. (BEAT) We're in the press operation room of Goddard Field. The rescue rocket has been aloft fifty-three minutes plus; its calculated time of arrival is fifty-four minutes. You will hear the voice of General Beauregard Finch on a direct pick-up from the rescue vessel, which has been named, unofficially, the Lifesaver. Silent crowds have collected at the outer perimeter of the rocket base, as if by their presence they might help--


OFFICER: (OFF) All right, gentlemen, here it comes.


REPORTER: (OFF) Quiet, quiet!


ANDERS: (HUSHED, QUICKLY) The next voice you hear will be General Finch, aloft in the rescue ship. The voice quality may not be good. He's speaking over a throat mike in his pressure suit.


SOUND: PAUSE ... FADE IN RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG


GENERAL: (FILTER) Mark III to Base. This is Finch. (LOW, TO FELLOW ASTRONAUT) Miller, secure that camera. (RESUMES, UP) We have just secured to the airlock of McMillen's ship. I'm now entering the lock. (BEAT) The inner door is closed. (BEAT) I have closed the outer door. (BEAT) The inner door is cycling. (BEAT) Now it is open. (LOW, TO FELLOW ASTRONAUT) Bring in those oxy-bottles, will ya? (RESUMES, UP) The bulkhead of the control room is open.


SOUND: PAUSE, AS RADIO STATIC CONTINUES ... REPORTERS' BRIEF PUZZLED MURMUR


ANDERS: Is he all right?


REPORTER: (MURMURS) Come on, will ya? What's happening?


SOUND: BEAT, AS RADIO STATIC CONTINUES


GENERAL: (FILTER, SOLEMN) Lieutenant McMillen is dead. He died heroically, waiting till all hope was gone, until every oxygen gauge stood at zero. And then-- Well, the airlock was open when we arrived. In accordance with his own wish, his body will be left here in its eternal orbit. I'm going to leave now. My feet'll be the last to touch this deck. Lieutenant McMillen is in his control chair, staring out towards the stars. I'll leave the airlock doors open behind me. Let the airless, frigid arms of space protect and preserve for all eternity this man they would not let go.


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS 


ANDERS: (TO PRODUCER) Well, that's the show, Bill. (BEAT) Bill, you remember at the conference we - we hadn't made up my mind to pick anything up from the celebration last night after the news of the Mars landing? I said it was the right end for Rev McMillen's story; you said it was old stuff -- every kid knew the sequence: the ships built to rescue Rev used to set up the satellite base, from the base to the Moon, and now to Mars. Well, I went out with a mini-tape last night and I've got the end of the story. Here it is!


SOUND: CUT DIRECTLY TO SEGMENT #21 ... HUGE CELEBRATING CROWD IN TIMES SQUARE, LIKE NEW YEAR'S EVE RIGHT AFTER THE BALL DROPS  


ANDERS: (LOUD, TO BE HEARD OVER CROWD) This is Harry Anders in Times Square. The neon rocket ship at the top of the Times Building has just flashed into brilliant light -- the signal that the landing signal has been received from the rocket "Rev McMillen the Third." Man has landed on Mars! And a holiday crowd here in Times Square is celebrating like a thousand New Years rolled into one. (CHUCKLES) I'm being-- I'm being tossed and pushed and clapped on the back all at once. Uh, let's see what the man on the street thinks about "man on Mars." (UP, TO A RANDOM MAN) You--! Uh, you, sir! I'm broadcasting--


McMILLEN: (NERVOUS) No! No, no, no--


ANDERS: How do you feel about it, sir? How do you feel tonight about man's conquest of space, of the planets?


McMILLEN: (LOW, QUICKLY) Leave me alone; I'm in a hurry.


ANDERS: Just a few words for the--


McMILLEN: Look, will you get your hands off me? (AS HE HURRIES OFF) Let go of me! I'm not interested!


ANDERS: Wait a minute, sir! Wait a--! (REALIZES) Wait-- Rev! (CALLS) Rev, come back here! Rev! 


SOUND: SEGMENT ENDS ABRUPTLY


ANDERS: (TO PRODUCER) You think I could listen to that voice over and over in a tape-editing room and not know every vowel, every consonant? I'm tellin' you, Bill, I saw him! Rev McMillen. The black hair was gray and those Clark Gable ears were pinned back, but that's a simple operation. I've played that piece of tape over and over; it was Rev, I know it. He isn't up there; he's alive. We've got it, Bill! We've got it on our show! We'll break it! Rev McMillen is alive. I haven't written it yet, but we finish it off with this -- with a question. Why did they announce he was dead? I'm in the tape-editing room now; I've got the reel ready to record the answer.


SOUND: TAPE-EDITING ROOM DOOR OPENS


AGENT: Excuse me, Mr. Anders. I'm from--


ANDERS: Hey, hey, hey! Just a minute; I'm recording. You better see the page outside at the desk.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, DOOR CLOSES


AGENT: Mr. Anders, I'd like to talk to you for a moment, if I may. I have a letter of authorization--


ANDERS: Oh, uh, just a minute. I'll be through in a minute. (TO PRODUCER) Look, Bill, I've got the answer now. Last night, they landed on Mars. But that first ship -- the one that circles up there now -- there isn't anybody on it. There never was, except a thirty-day's recording and a transmitter, that's all. He was never up there. They didn't have the money for a manned rocket. They wanted a crash program -- all out -- so they sent a decoy up. (CHUCKLES) And we all broke our hearts to rescue the man who wasn't there. (BEAT) Oh, he must be laughing -- General Finch and the rest of them, the ones that knew. (THOUGHTFUL) Yeah, I guess they had a problem: what to do with Rev. (CHUCKLES) I wonder if he slipped away from whatever guards they have around him to see the celebration. He looked a little, uh-- A little sad. I think sometimes he must wish he was really up there in the cave of night, seated in the icy control room, one thousand seventy-five miles above the Earth, staring out at the stars--


AGENT: Mr. Anders, I must insist--


ANDERS: What? Oh, uh-- (BEAT, TO PRODUCER, DISMAYED) Oh, Bill. (BEAT, DRY) Looks as though I won't have to worry about editing this tape. My "friends" are from Washington.


AGENT: I'd like to call your attention to the last paragraph.


ANDERS: What? Oh, no, no, no, no. It's very simple. You won't have to burn it. It's easy to destroy recording tape. I throw this switch. When the tape goes through the erasing head, it's-- Well, it's gone forever. (INHALES, DISAPPOINTED) Oh, too bad. Would have made one fine show. (WITH A SHRUG) Okay. So long, Rev.


SOUND: SQUEAK OF REEL-TO-REEL TAPE ROLLING RAPIDLY THROUGH ERASING HEAD ... THEN OUT


ANNOUNCER: You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine, which this month features an exciting serial, "Slave Ship" by Frederick Pohl. ...


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