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The Scarlet Plague

Escape

The Scarlet Plague

Apr 08 1954



CAST:

VOICE

ANNOUNCER


JIM, the English lit professor

BILL, the physiology professor; grumpy, cynical

NEWSCASTER, on radio

MISS BAXTER, student

MISS WILSON, student

DR. BARNES, university chancellor 

MYRA BLAKE, graphic arts

DRUNK, violent and crazy

PARTY GUY, boisterous and drunk

PARTY GIRL, likewise

and various CROWDS




VOICE: Tired of the everyday grind?

Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure?

Want to get away from it all?

We offer you --


MUSIC: DRUM ROLL


VOICE: -- ESCAPE!


MUSIC: EERIE ACCENT


ANNOUNCER: ESCAPE! Designed to free you from the four walls of today for a half hour of high adventure!


MUSIC: THEME ("NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN") ... THEN OMINOUS, BEHIND VOICE--


VOICE: You are alone in a world of decay and desolation, looking down on what was once a great city, while coming slowly to meet you, her hand stretched out in greeting to you, is a beautiful girl whose very existence may be the cause of -- your death.


ANNOUNCER: Listen now as ESCAPE brings you Jack London's classic novel, "The Scarlet Plague."


MUSIC: FOR A DOOM-LADEN INTRODUCTION


SOUND: BLEAK WIND HOWLS, IN BG


JIM: (NARRATES) I am recording this only for myself -- for my own sanity -- perhaps even from some age-old sense of duty -- for I have not the slightest hope that it will ever be heard by any living human being.


I was at one time a professor of English literature in the great university at San Francisco -- Professor James Smith -- a man who believed in reason, in intellect, and who abhorred the instincts of animal nature. But that was before. Before the terror and the madness of the Scarlet Plague!


This morning, I killed a sheep with my bare hand. Then, squatting on the ground, I tore a haunch from my prey - and ate it - raw.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND JIM--


JIM: (NARRATES) It began simply, on a Monday morning as I recall. I was having breakfast at the counter in the campus cafeteria with Bill Dombey of the physiology department. He was glancing over the front page of the morning paper.


SOUND: BUSY CAFETERIA BACKGROUND ... RATTLE OF NEWSPAPER PAGES


BILL: (GRUMPY) Oh, I don't know why I do it, Jim.


JIM: Do what?


BILL: Buy a paper every morning. Nothing changes but the date.


JIM: (CHUCKLES)


BILL: Senator So-and-So back in Washington after whirlwind tour, love nest killing in Omaha, new bomb test at Enewetak scheduled for the--


JIM: What - what's that item down at the bottom?


BILL: Where?


JIM: Down in the corner. (READS) "New York Fights Scarlet Plague."


BILL: Some news reporter's pipe dream, I suppose. 


SOUND: RATTLE OF NEWSPAPER ... AND AGAIN AT [X] AS BILL ADJUSTS OR TURNS THE PAGE


BILL: (READS) Er, "Nine persons have died since last evening of a strange malady which has left doctors at Manhattan hospitals admittedly baffled. The disease -- if it is a disease -- strikes without warning and slays its victim in less than an hour. Apparently, the first symptoms are a feeling of well-being and lightheadedness accompanied by a slight rise in temperature. A few minutes later, a fiery red rash-- [X] --appears on the hands and face, and spreads rapidly over the entire body. Within ten to thirty minutes, the victim goes into coma and dies." [X] (TO JIM) Ridiculous! There's no disease that acts like that. It's food poisoning; something of that sort.


JIM: (CHUCKLES) Please, Bill. I'm eating.


BILL: (READS) "Medical authorities are unanimously agreed, however, that no general danger exists and that there is no cause for public concern or alarm."


SOUND: NEWSPAPER CRUMPLED AND THROWN AWAY


BILL: Which is double-talk for "We don't know what it is yet."


JIM: (THOUGHTFUL) Hmm. (BEAT) What about a mutation?


BILL: Mutation of what?


JIM: Well, how do I know? You're the physiologist.


BILL: Oh, you're talking about those scare stories, I suppose. Harmless virus or bacteria mutates and throws down some new deadly type. Antibiotics won't touch it, medical science helpless, a million people wiped out overnight.


JIM: It's a possibility, isn't it?


BILL: (DISMISSIVE) Oh, Jim, bacteria strains are always mutating -- and usually the mutation is less harmful than the parent. That idea's been overworked for years. (CHANGES SUBJECT) Pass the cream, please.


JIM: Oh, sure.


SOUND: CREAM PASSED


JIM: Bill?


BILL: Hm?


JIM: Is it a possibility or not?


BILL: (BEAT, CONCEDES, SLOWLY) Yes. It's a possibility.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... CHANGES TO AN APPROPRIATE TUNE ON THE RADIO (AN INSTRUMENTAL VERSION OF THE 1931 DIETZ-SCHWARTZ SONG "DANCING IN THE DARK") ... THEN IN BG


BILL: Hey. You're stalling, Jim. That rook's the only piece you can move, and you know it.


JIM: Don't rush me now. I've still got the queen back here. Now, let's see. Hmm.


MUSIC: SONG ENDS ABRUPTLY


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER) And here is the latest development on the Scarlet Plague.


BILL: (WITH DISGUST) Oh, the Scarlet Plague. (TO JIM) Ah-ah-ah, I wouldn't move that if I were you.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) The following statement was released a few minutes ago by the director of the Bureau of Public Health. Up to this hour, the official death toll in Greater New York is three hundred and twenty-one persons. In Boston, ninety-four. Washington, D. C., one hundred and eleven. Chicago, one hundred eighty-one. 


JIM: Hm. Spreading like wildfire.


BILL: Yeah.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) Medical men throughout the nation are working around the clock. It is expected momentarily that the causative agent of the disease will be isolated and an effective treatment prescribed. Meanwhile, stay home, and stay calm. (INCONGRUOUSLY CHEERFUL) We return you now to "Dance Time."


MUSIC: "DANCING IN THE DARK" RETURNS


BILL: Turn it off, Jim.


JIM: Mm.


SOUND: CHAIR SCRAPE AS JIM RISES ... STEPS TO RADIO ... CLICK! OF SWITCH


MUSIC: OUT


JIM: How can it spread so fast?


BILL: It's hard to tell, not knowing the period of incubation, whether it's airborne, contagious by contact, how long it's contagious before the symptoms show up. Not even knowing what it is, in fact. One thing's sure, though. Something's got to be done -- fast.


JIM: I guess we can call ourselves lucky out here. There hasn't been a case reported in San Francisco.


BILL: No. Not yet.


MUSIC: TRANSITION


JIM: (FINISHES READING POEM TO CLASS)

"When all the breathers of this world are dead;

You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen,

Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men."


SOUND: JIM CLOSES BOOK ... THEN TAPS FINGERS TWICE ON COVER BEHIND--


JIM: (LECTURES) Now, I did not choose this particular sonnet because of possible contemporary suitability, but because it does, I think, best keynote the transitional phase that later--


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, STUDENTS BEGIN WHISPERING TO ONE ANOTHER, WITH INCREASING EXCITEMENT ... CONTINUES BEHIND--


JIM: (BEAT, RESUMES LECTURE) That later appears in the philosophies and the poetic-- (BEAT, CALLS, ANNOYED) Is something wrong back there?


MISS BAXTER: (SCARED) Mr. Smith!


JIM: Yes, what's the trouble, Miss Baxter?


MISS BAXTER: Look at her face! It's the Scarlet Plague!


SOUND: STUDENTS EXPLODE IN PANIC ("The Scarlet Plague!"), YELLING, MURMURING, RISING AND STAMPEDING OUT OF THE ROOM ... CONTINUES BEHIND--


JIM: Now, wait! Now, wait! Morley! Everett! Wait and give me a hand here!


SOUND: BUT NO ONE WAITS ... THE EXITING STUDENTS FADE OUT AS JIM'S STEPS HURRY TO MISS WILSON


JIM: Miss Wilson?


MISS WILSON: (QUIET HORROR) Professor Smith, look at my hand. My arm is all red.


JIM: (SOOTHING) Now, Miss Wilson--


MISS WILSON: (SLOWLY) I feel so strange. Cold and numb. I'm dying. Everyone who gets it dies. I'm only nineteen and I'm dying.


JIM: (COMFORTING) There, there.


MISS WILSON: (SLOWLY, DYING) "When all breathers of this world are dead; You--"


JIM: (PAUSE, UNHAPPY, TO HIMSELF) Now it's in San Francisco.


MUSIC: GRIM TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND JIM--


JIM: (NARRATES) I sat for a long time in the empty classroom -- paralyzed by shock, by a strange fear I'd never felt before -- the fear of the unknown. The girl had walked into my class smiling and talking, and now she lay dead at the back of the room. Why? How could it happen so suddenly? What had caused the plague? Where had the terror started? And where would it end? I went to the faculty club. Bill Dombey was listening to the latest reports.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER) The latest reports from around the nation include the following figures. "Greater New York, estimated one hundred eighty-four thousand deaths. Philadelphia, estimated one hundred fifty thousand deaths. St. Louis, estimated eighty-three thousand deaths. Chicago--" One moment, please. (BEAT) A bulletin has just been handed to me from London. "The Scarlet Plague is raging in Europe. Unofficial reports from Russia estimate the death toll in Moscow at one hundred and eighty thousand, with additional millions dead and dying throughout the Soviet Union and China." New bulletins will be broadcast whenever they are received for as long as our facilities last, and we--


SOUND: CLICK! OF SWITCH AS RADIO IS TURNED OFF


JIM: No word of any cure yet?


BILL: (NO LONGER GRUMPY, JUST LOW-KEY AND DEJECTED) Eh? Oh. Jim, I - I didn't hear you come in.


JIM: I just walked across the campus. It's completely deserted.


BILL: Yes. Just the faculty club here is the only holdout. And at that, there are only four.


JIM: Four?


BILL: Counting you. Myra Blake of graphic arts. She went over to her room to pack some keepsakes; she'll be back. Dr. Barnes is out in the kitchen trying to rustle up something to drink.


SOUND: JIM TAKES A FEW STEPS TO CHAIR AND SITS


JIM: (EXHALES DEEPLY) Bill, that girl who died in my class a while ago-- One minute she was all right and a minute later she was dead.


BILL: Well, it's fast. That's one thing.


JIM: Can ya get it from contact? I lifted her head; I put some books under it.


BILL: Nobody knows how ya get it. I don't suppose contact matter's much. Couldn't be all contact -- not millions of cases in less than forty-eight hours.


SOUND: CHAIR SCRAPES AS JIM RISES AND TAKES A FEW STEPS


JIM: (AGITATED) Well, why can't they find a cure?! They've had two days now. What are they all doing?!


BILL: (BEAT) Dying, Jim, like everybody else.


SOUND: BARNES ENTERS


BARNES: (OFF) Dombey? Smith? 


BILL: Oh. Dr. Barnes.


SOUND: BARNES' STEPS APPROACH ... CLINK OF BOTTLE AND GLASSES DURING FOLLOWING--


BARNES: Here. Maybe this'll help.


BILL: Scotch?!


BARNES: Why not? There's a whole case of it out there. (BEAT) I think it might be a good idea to keep that radio on.


BILL: Yes, you're probably right, Dr. Barnes.


SOUND: STEPS TO RADIO ... CLICK! OF SWITCH


BILL: Technicians, engineers -- they've died by thousands all over the country. How much longer can services like radio, telephones, transportation--?


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) --that's been issued a few minutes ago. (BEAT, READS) "All conveyances, regardless of ownership or occupancy are being stopped and turned back at army control points. Stay where you are. Do not attempt to travel. You are no safer in one place than another. The plague is everywhere. Repeat: The plague is everywhere."


BILL: It won't stop and they'll still try to run.


BARNES: Yes. Anywhere, just as long as it's somewhere else.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) The statement also reiterates the earlier claim that the army has not mutinied. Repeat: The army has not mutinied. 


BILL: It must be getting rough out there.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) The statement was signed by Edmund C. Dover, Senate member and acting president of the United States, and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (BEAT) In a bulletin just handed to me, Johns Hopkins regretfully states that Dr. Theodore Von Zwickler, who had earlier announced partial success in identifying the causative agent of the plague-- (BEAT, VOICE BREAKS) --has just died. 


BILL: (LOW, STUNNED) Zwickler?


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER) Though Dr. Zwickler left no notes on his work, hospital personnel continue to--


JIM: (BEAT) What happened to the lights?


BILL: I-- Power failure, I guess. It was bound to happen sooner or later.


JIM: There's a flashlight in that desk drawer.


SOUND: STEPS TO DRAWER, WHICH OPENS ... FLASHLIGHT PICKED UP


JIM: (OFF) I got it.


BARNES: There is a portable radio with batteries in the game room.


JIM: Oh, let's leave it for the moment, Dr. Barnes.


BILL: Yes. The liquor sounds better than the news.


BARNES: Well, in that case--


SOUND: CLINK! OF BOTTLE AND GLASS AS BARNES POURS A DRINK 


BARNES: Wonder what's keeping Miss Blake. She was coming right back.


BILL: Hey, wait a minute.


JIM: Hm?


BILL: Where's that light coming from?


JIM: Looks like a fire. 


BILL: Maybe we can see from the windows.


SOUND: THEY ALL WALK TO WINDOW


BARNES: Not one fire. A thousand fires.


JIM: Down there, toward the bay! Berkeley, Oakland, and over in the city. Why? What started them?


SOUND: BLINDS RAISED AND WINDOW OPENED BEHIND--


BILL: (WITH EFFORT, TO HIMSELF) Let's get this window open.


SOUND: CRICKETS CHIRP NEARBY ... GUNFIRE AND RIOTING IN THE DISTANCE ... THEN IN BG


BILL: Can't you hear why, Jim?


JIM: Gunfire!


BARNES: (QUIETLY GRIM) Yes. They're not waiting for the plague to do the job.


BILL: No, they're already out in force -- the looters, the maimers, the robbers; people with a hate and a grievance.


JIM: If it's started already, it'll get a lot worse.


BILL: Oh, yes. It'll get worse.


MUSIC: FIRST ACT CURTAIN ... THEN OUT BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: You are listening to "The Scarlet Plague," tonight's presentation on ESCAPE. 


Sunday afternoon, CBS Radio will bring you another of its successful "on the scene" reports gathered by its FEATURE PROJECT team. This time, we'll take you to the United States' wide-open back door, the Mexican border, the crossing point for two million illegal entrants last year alone. We call this report "The Wetbacks" because that's what so many of these illegal entrants are called as they swim the Rio Grande into the United States. Hear "The Wetbacks" Sunday on most of these same stations.


And now ESCAPE -- and the second act of "The Scarlet Plague."


MUSIC: SECOND ACT INTRODUCTION ... THEN SOMBER BEHIND JIM--


JIM: (NARRATES) We stood at the window of the faculty club, looking out across the campus, down over the hills toward the bay, where fires lit up the growing night, and where even fiercer fires -- of greed, and lust, and hate -- burned in hearts that were beating their last hours, or even seconds, of life in this world. For a world was dying at our feet, and though we had so far been spared, we knew we, too, were dying with it.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER) Contact is still being maintained with Buenos Aires. And since London overseas went silent a few minutes ago, this is now our only contact outside continental North America.


JIM: (SIGHS) Makes you know you're alone. Really alone.


BILL: Yes, it does.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) We are, at present, able to maintain contact with only two stations in this country, Washington and Chicago. The West Coast has been silent for some thirty minutes and we do not know whether we are being heard there at this time.


BILL: Oh, this is unbelievable. A crazy dream; it can't be happening.


NEWSCASTER: (FILTER, OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) At the moment, we are waiting for word from Washington, naming the new president of the United States to replace Edmund C. Dover, who died on the Senate platform while attempting to conduct--


SOUND: RADIO SWITCHED OFF


BARNES: (DISMISSIVE) Ah! What's the use?!


JIM: Well, are we still agreed on leaving?


BILL: We must. If by some miracle we do survive, we'll be out of food here in three days. And tonight may be the last chance to find any. They're probably looting every store in the Bay Area.


BARNES: Grocery stores, liquor stores, jewelers, fur shops--


JIM: More the reason to get started now then.


BILL: Right. If we can make three or four trips with the station wagon tonight, we ought to be set here for quite a while. Er, what about those pistols, Dr. Barnes? You said there were a couple in the safe.


BARNES: Yes, I'll - I'll get them.


SOUND: BARNES' STEPS AWAY


JIM: It's funny how things are changing. He was chancellor of this university, now he's foraging for food.


BILL: Yes. Well, I'll gas up the station wagon and get it over here so we can--


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


MYRA: (OFF) Is anybody here?


JIM: Wha--?


BILL: (LOW) Jim, turn that flashlight on the door.


JIM: (BEAT) Myra!


MYRA: (APPROACHES) Jim! Thank heaven you're still here.


SOUND: MYRA'S STEPS TO JIM


JIM: Oh, Dr. Barnes was worried about you, Myra. (MOVING OFF) He just went into the other room; I'll tell him you're here.


SOUND: JIM'S STEPS AWAY


MYRA: All right, Jim. (TO BILL) I was afraid there might not be anybody here. I was hurrying to get back and I caught my heel on the edge of the walk and fell. I think I hit my head.


BILL: (WITH DRY DISGUST) Tripped and fell. The whole world dying and you trip and fall.


MYRA: (MIRTHLESS) Yeah, I guess it is funny.


JIM: (CALLS, FROM OFF) Myra?! Bill?!


BILL: What is it?


MYRA: What's wrong?


SOUND: JIM'S STEPS APPROACH


JIM: Dr. Barnes is lying just outside -- dead.


MYRA: (EXHALES)


BILL: Plague?


JIM: Yes. (BEAT) But he got the pistols. Here.


SOUND: PISTOLS HANDLED ... BULLETS LOADED BEHIND NEXT TWO LINES--


BILL: Thanks. (BEAT) Do you know how to use one of these, Jim?


JIM: In a general way. (BEAT) Well, we'd better get started, Bill. We shouldn't be too long, Myra.


MYRA: You're not gonna leave me here alone?!


BILL: Ah, she's right, Jim. I wouldn't want to be left alone, either.


JIM: (BEAT) All right. Let's go.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND JIM--


JIM: (NARRATES) We tried the Oakland docks first -- the big food warehouses along the railroad tracks. It was a dead end. From a mile away we could see the blaze towering into the night sky. The whole dock area was in flames. We swung the station wagon back onto the ramp and headed across the Bay Bridge toward the city itself, fighting our way in and out of the jumbled traffic and the terrified crowds on foot -- turning and twisting among the dead and dying.


SOUND: ROAR OF TRAFFIC AND BUZZ OF TERRIFIED CROWDS ... THEN IN BG


MYRA: We'd better go back, Bill. This is getting worse every block.


BILL: Yeah, I know. Trying to get a chance to turn around.


JIM: There - there's an alley there, by the hotel. Maybe you can edge in there.


BILL: (WITH EFFORT, TURNING THE WHEEL) Worth a try anyway.


SOUND: CAR TURNS INTO ALLEY


MYRA: Look out, Bill!


SOUND: SCREECH! OF CAR BRAKES


DRUNK: Hey! Watch who you're bumpin' in to!


BILL: Sorry.


DRUNK: I ain't takin' a pushin' around from nobody! Not any more, y'understand?!


BILL: I told you I was--


DRUNK: That's on account of what I got! Take a look at a forty-five, wise guy!


BILL: (PLACATING) All right now--


MYRA: Careful, Bill. He's drunk.


DRUNK: Look close and you can see the bullet comin' out! Watch now!


MYRA: (HORRIFIED) No!


SOUND: GUNSHOT


MYRA: (SHRIEKS)


DRUNK: (LAUGHS HEARTILY, TO OTHERS) I bet he saw it all right. I bet he got a real good look before he--!


SOUND: INCREASINGLY NOISY CROWD TOPS THE DRUNK AS IT SWARMS NEAR THE CAR TO SEE THE DEAD BODY ... CONTINUES IN BG


JIM: He's crazy, Myra. Come on, hurry. We've gotta get out of here.


SOUND: CAR DOOR OPENS


MYRA: (NERVOUS) What about the other men?


JIM: We'll leave the car. Come on, out this side. 


SOUND: NOISY CROWD ... UP, TO FILL PAUSE ... THEN IN BG


JIM: This way, Myra. The hotel entrance. (WITH EFFORT, PUSHING THROUGH CROWD) Out of the way! One side! Step aside.


SOUND: JIM AND MYRA STRUGGLE THROUGH CROWD, THEN EMERGE FROM IT


JIM: (TO MYRA) All right, come on.


SOUND: JIM AND MYRA'S HURRIED STEPS THROUGH DOOR INTO HOTEL LOBBY ... CROWD NOISE SUBSIDES A LITTLE, BUT CONTINUES OFF ... JIM AND MYRA'S STEPS CONTINUE IN BG, IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


MYRA: What can we do, Jim? They saw us come in. They'll be after us any second.


JIM: (POINTS) The stairway; there, next to the elevators. Hurry, Myra.


MYRA: (EXHALES WEARILY)


SOUND: CROWD NOISE FADES AS JIM AND MYRA'S STEPS HURRY TO THE STAIRWAY AND UP STAIRS ... THEN IN BG


MYRA: (BREATHES HEAVILY)


JIM: Maybe we can find a room; some place to hide, in case they come up the stairs.


SOUND: JIM AND MYRA'S STEPS EMERGE ON A VERY QUIET FIRST FLOOR


MYRA: Try that one, Jim.


JIM: All right.


SOUND: HOTEL ROOM DOOR OPENS ONTO A NOISY PARTY CROWD ... MUCH LAUGHTER BY GUESTS ... SQUEALING AND GIGGLING BY DRUNKEN PARTY GIRL ... THEN IN BG


MYRA: (SURPRISED) It's full of people!


PARTY GUY: (TO PARTY GIRL) Hey! Look! We've got more guests!


JIM: Sorry, we--


PARTY GUY: Come on in -- and live


PARTY GIRL: (DRUNKENLY, TO JIM AND MYRA) Hey, come on! 


PARTY GUY: That's what all of us are doin' -- livin' while we're dyin'.


PARTY GIRL: (GIGGLES HYSTERICALLY)


MYRA: (REALIZES, QUIETLY ASTONISHED) A party!


PARTY GUY: Come on in! We got plenty to eat, plenty to drink! Fifty pounds of diamonds, tons of money, lots of women, and not a worry in the world!


JIM: Come on, Myra. Let's go.


MYRA: (SHAKEN, EXHALES AGREEMENT)


SOUND: JIM AND MYRA'S STEPS AWAY


PARTY GUY: (CALLS AFTER THEM, AN INSULT) Sore heads! (TO PARTY GIRL) Come on, Letty, open another bottle! There's not much time!


PARTY GIRL: Okay, boy!


SOUND: HOTEL DOOR SHUTS ... PARTY NOISE CUTS OUT ABRUPTLY ... JIM AND MYRA TAKE A FEW STEPS IN THE SILENT HALLWAY, THEN STOP BEHIND--


MYRA: Jim, where can we go?


JIM: (THINKING HARD) Well, the hotel's about twelve or fourteen stories high. The elevators aren't working. I doubt if anybody'd bother us on one of the top floors. They wouldn't have any reason to climb up there. You wanna try it?


MYRA: All right, Jim.


JIM: Let's go.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND JIM--


JIM: (NARRATES) For five days we stayed on the top floor of the hotel, and no one came up to bother us. Twice, with pistol in hand, I left Myra in the room and slipped down into the streets to forage for food and supplies. Gradually over the three days I saw the mobs diminish, thin out, as the Scarlet Plague continued to rage unchecked. Then finally on the morning of the sixth day, I brought Myra down from the room to see what had happened to the city.


SOUND: FAINT WIND BLOWS ... THEN IN BG


MYRA: (SLOWLY) There's not a person in sight, Jim. No one but us. Not another living soul as far as you can see. 


JIM: Listen. (BEAT) There's not a sound.


MYRA: A dead world. (INCREASINGLY FAST AND TEARFUL) But there must be others, Jim. Not just us. They're hiding. We'll take a car and drive and look for them! There must be others!


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND JIM--


JIM: (NARRATES) But she was wrong. We drove for a hundred miles -- all over the city and the countryside around it -- and when we finally stopped on a hill above the bay, we knew that there was not another living soul in the whole city. We were the only human beings left alive in San Francisco --- and, most likely, the only ones in the entire world.


SOUND: FAINT WIND BLOWS ... THEN IN BG


MYRA: But why, Jim? Why us and no one else?


JIM: (HELPLESSLY) I - I don't know why. I don't know why any of this-- It's - it's just too vast to begin to comprehend. But we're alive. That's the only thing that's certain. We're both alive. (BEAT, REALIZES) To be alone -- to be the only living human in the world -- would mean terror. Absolute terror and insanity.


MYRA: I feel guilty somehow. Being alive when everyone else is dead.


JIM: There can't be any guilt when you don't have a choice. It was nothing we did. And besides, Myra-- Don't you see what it means? Since we've been spared, mankind itself has been spared, and - and civilization. (HOPEFUL, EXCITED) We'll have children. We'll teach them! See that they remember and pass on the greatness of the past!


MYRA: (INSPIRED) Yes! Oh, yes!


JIM: Together! Together, we can do it! We can give mankind another chance! You and I, Myra! We can keep it from being lost forever! Together, everything's different! There's a new hope! Something to live for and work for! And we-- (STOPS SHORT, WEAKLY) We--


MYRA: (BEAT, PUZZLED) What's wrong, Jim?


JIM: (BEAT, SHAKEN) Myra--?


MYRA: What?


JIM: (WITH HORROR) Your face. It's turning scarlet!


MUSIC: CURTAIN


ANNOUNCER: Under the direction of Norman Macdonnell, ESCAPE has brought you "The Scarlet Plague" by Jack London, specially adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield, starring Vic Perrin. Featured in the cast were Parley Baer, Virginia Gregg, and John Dehner, with Eleanore Tanin, John Larch, Barney Phillips, and Sam Edwards. Your announcer, George Walsh. The special music for ESCAPE is composed and conducted by Leith Stevens.


MUSIC: OMINOUS ACCENT


ANNOUNCER: Next week--


MUSIC: EERIE ACCENT


VOICE: You are standing in the bedroom of an English inn, the sound of revelry coming faintly up the stairs, while in the shadows across the room from you, the gun in his hand already aimed at you, is an enemy agent, whose success depends upon - your death.


ANNOUNCER: So listen next week when ESCAPE brings you Ben Wright's story, "Affair at Mandrake."


MUSIC: THEME ("NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN") ... THEN FADES OUT BEHIND--


ANNOUNCER: Every Saturday evening at the Stars' Address, enjoy William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon in GUNSMOKE. It's a drama of the frontier of America in the Eighteen Seventies -- authentic, dramatic, and full of the lore that made the American cowboy a part of our national heritage. Remember -- GUNSMOKE, Saturday night.


MR. KEENE, TRACER OF LOST PERSONS is heard Friday nights on the CBS Radio network.


MUSIC: BROODING ... UNTIL END


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