“One Hundred Thousand Diameters”
WOR – MBS – Mon. June 7, 1948 – 9:30-10:00 PM EDST
REH – Mon. June 7, 1948 – 2:00-5:00 PM EDST STUDIO 2
Mon. June 7, 1948 – 8:00-9:30 PM EDST STUDIO 15
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
(SEVEN SECONDS SILENCE)
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
(MUSIC … THEME … FADE FOR)
ANNCR: The Mutual Broadcasting System presents “Quiet, Please!” which is written and directed y Wyllis Cooper, and which features Ernest Chappell. “Quiet, Please!” for tonight is called, “One Hundred Thousand Diameters”.
(MUSIC … THEME … END)
JUDD: Just sit perfectly still.
Better keep your hands in your lap, there. And don’t move your feet. Just be still. (A PAUSE) It’ll go away in a second: all you have to do is play dead! And don’t look at it! Just sit stiiiiilllll … (A PAUSE) It’s fascinatin’ .. .you look at it and you see all kinds of things … hasn’t got any eyes but it sees you – it hears you – wiggles along the floor toward you …
SOUND: (AND THERE IS THE SOUND OF A VIGOROUS SLAP. JUDD, STARTS, AND SNAPS OUT OF IT INSTANTLY)
JUDD: Thanks, Jean.
JEAN: You know better than to sit and look at the thing!
JUDD: Sure; but you get carried away. Thanks for smacking me.
JEAN: Don’t mention it.
JUDD: You didn’t need to crack my bridgework, though.
JEAN: You wouldn’t have had any bridgework in another couple of seconds.
JUDD: Yes. Thanks. Where’d it go?
JEAN: (LOOKS AROUND) By the chair.
JUDD: I see it. Well, let’s put the salt solution over there; maybe it’ll crawl back in.
JEAN: All right. That’s close enough for me.
JUDD: Me, too. Well, now, friend. You’re all right. (A PAUSE) I say it won’t hurt you now. Sorry to scare you, but –
JEAN: Don’t touch him.
JUDD: Huh? Why?
JEAN: Look at him.
JUDD: Good gosh, the man’s dead.
(MUSIC … AN ACCENT)
JUDD: Now, I want to tell you about that, because you ought to know.
My name is Judd. Verne R. Judd. Not Vernon: Verne. I’m a histologist and bacteriologist. Not a doctor. Not a mad scientist; nothing spectacular, nothing up my sleeve. I look through microscopes, and make various kinds of reports on what I see. Photographs; drawings, qualitative and quantitative analyses. That is, you bring me a specimen and I look at it and dye it different colours and count the various kinds of bacteria I see, and so on. So many staphylococcuc aureus; so many polymorphonuclear cells, so on. I don’t tell you what to do with them or anything of that sort. I’m merely an observer and a reporter, that’s all.
Jean is my laboratory assistant. Cornell, two years in the lab at Cook County, three years with me. The dead man there in the chair. He’s a – he was a messenger for an analytical laboratory I’ve done some work for. Unimportant, although I agree that I was a little shocked at his sudden kicking off. I don’t know his name, and we’ve got to get rid of him, Jean.
JEAN: You’re telling me.
JUDD: Yes, yes. Now, I realize that you’re probably saying to yourself that I’m a pretty hardened customer, and that Jean is too. That we’ve got no feelings; that probably w’re murderers. Well, friend, disabuse yourself of any ideas like those, will you?
It’s too bad this fellow died.
But what we’re trying to do is keep a lot of other people from dying the way he got it. And we haven’t got time to fool around with emotions over one man.
You don’t agree with me?
One of the people we’re trying to save, mister, is you.
Some of the others are your family.
Practically everybody you know.
(MUSIC .. .AN ACCENT)
JUDD: So take it easy, will you?
And don’t jump up and down and wave your arms.
We’ll save you.
JEAN: It’s back in the saline solution now, Judd.
JUDD: Well, fasten the lid down tight, then.
SOUND: (FASTENING THE LID)
JEAN: It’ll stay this time.
Don’t let me scare you too much. Yet.
I started to tell you about things, in particular. Yes, it killed the messenger. I don’t know how. I think I know, but …
No, I don’t know what it is.
I think I know, though; but …
All set, Jean?
JEAN: (AWAY) All set.
SOUND: (SHE COMES CLOSER)
JUDD: No, you can’t pour that sodium hydroxide solution into the container.
JEAN: Please, Judd.
JUDD: No, you’ll just kill it.
JEAN: That’s what I want to do.
JUDD: That won’t be a great help, Jean. You know that.
JEAN: Yes, I suppose so.
JUDD: Because …
You see, Jean and I’ve been hoping we could get married one day. We haven’t got around to it yet, because we’ve been so busy - all that sort of thing. You know. But … well, we’ll see how this comes out, first.
I guess it was two weeks ago, wasn’t it, Jean, that we were over at Kurt’s place?
Yes, about two weeks ago. Kurt and I went to school together, and we’re both in the same profes - I suppose business is s better term. Only Kurt’s research is a little different from mine.
He got carried away by the electron microscope …
Worked under Zworykin, at Princeton, and got to be quite a boy with the electron job.
JEAN: You’d better tell him about the electron microscope, Judd. The whole store is -
JUDD: That’s right. Well; you know how the ordinary microscope works, of course. A combination of objective and ocular lenses that magnify whatever’s on the stage; that’s all. Well, the ordinary optical microscope naturally depends upon light waves, and there is a theoretical limit of resolving power inherent in it. In other words, you can’t magnify anything beyond a certain limit. 5,000 diameters is about the practicable limit. Higher magnifications just don’t work; they don’t magnify details. I haven’t got time to explain it all to you; if you want to no more, look it up in a book on optics. That is, if you have the time.
Zworykin invented the electron microscope. let’s make it simple: he uses electronic fields instead of lenses, and his waves are shorter than light-waves, so he can magnify many more times. Only you can’t see by Zworykin’s waves, so he put in a very simple device: a fluorescent screen, on which his waves produce an image: a visible image.
And he gets enormous magnification. Of the order of ten thousand, thirty thousand, a hundred thousand diameters, on his fluorescent screen. Unfortunately what you see are cast shadows: but recently they’ve developed a way of spraying whatever they’re looking at with chromium vapours from one side, so that the projected image is apparently three-dimensional. It helps a lot in determining structures and so no - but the effect is only apparent, you see.
JEAN: That’s enough of the lecturing Judd, isn’t it?
Let’s get down to cases, now. Jean, come here and sit down. I don’t want to kill that thing. Killing it won’t do a bit of good. Just killing one won’t do any good. And we’ve got so much to find out while it’s still alive.
JEAN: I know, but - all right.
JUDD: It was a Wednesday night we went over to Kurt’s place, I think. We played three-handed gin rummy till about midnight, and we were eating crackers and gjetost - you know, that wonderful Norweigan cheese - and drinking gin-and-tonic which, I suppose, is enough to make you see things without a microscope. And Kurt - it always took more than a mouthful of crackers and cheese to stop him!
KURT: I got it up to an even hundred thousand diameters now, Judd, and I’m going to show you something.
JUDD: He’s talking about his new E.M., Jean.
JUDD: Electron microscope. A new one. (HE LAUGHS) With a couple of new gimmicks on it.
JEAN: Like what?
KURT: Oh, some things.
JEAN: Plays records?
KURT: (LAUGHS) Practically.
JUDD: What you got, Kurt?
KURT: Well, come on, I’ll show you. Come on in the lab.
JUDD: An electron microscope takes up a good part of a small room. It looks like a modernistic drill-press, or one of those super-science instruments you see in Stupefying Stories, or something. The power unit takes up a lot of room, too, and the microscope itself stands taller than a man. This was the biggest one I’d even seen - and it was different. Usually, there’s a bulge in the middle of the tube, about table height, with a number of holes through which you look down at the magnified image on the fluorescent screen.
That part was missing on this one. Instead, there was a thing built into it that looked..well, something like a strange sort of coffin, and there was only one eyepiece leading into the coffin.
JEAN: What’s that thing, Kurt?
KURT: That’s the eyepiece.
JEAN: That your gadget?
KURT: No. This is my gadget.
JUDD: That coffin thing?
KURT: Look. Look into this ordinary microscope.
JEAN: (AFTER A PAUSE) Yes.
KURT: You look, Judd.
JUDD: (AFTER A PAUSE) So what?
KURT: Recognise it?
JUDD: Looks like a piece of mosquito’s wing.
KURT: It is. A piece exactly one tenth of a millimeter square.
KURT: Well, I want to show you something.
JUDD: I’ve seen a mosquito’s wing blown up to a hundred thousand.
KURT: (GRINNING) Oh, have you? Wait.
SOUND: (HE TURNS ON A SWITCH AND WE HEAR A LOUD AC HUM)
KURT: Warm up the tubes.
JUDD: Jean, go and get us a drink, will you?
KURT: Now, wait. Plenty of time for that later. I want you to watch.
JUDD: Well, do something,.
KURT: Keep your shirt on.
SOUND: (HE TURNS ANOTHER SWITCH AND THE HUM BECOMES LOUDER)
KURT: Now. Now we take the slide with the little mosquito wing … and we
SOUND: (OPENING A LITTLE DOOR)
KURT: put it in here at the focus of the beam
SOUND: (CLOSING THE LITTLE DOOR)
KURT: and I run a simple saline solution in here - in your “coffin”, Judd
SOUND: (AND WATER RUNS THROUGH A METAL CONTAINER)
KURT: and then … wait, better stand back a little way …
JUDD: What are you going to do?
SOUND: (HE FLIPS ANOTHER SWITCH. RELAYS CLICK, THERE IS A BOILING SOUND, AND A SMALL BELL RINGS)
JUDD: What goes on?
KURT: Watch, boy.
SOUND: (HE UNFASTENS A LID, THROWS IT OPEN, FISHES AROUND A SECOND IN THE SOLUTION, AND BRINGS UP SOMETHING WHICH DRIPS)
KURT: (TRIUMPHANTLY) There.
JEAN: What - what is it?
SOUND: (KURT TOSSES SOMETHING ON THE TABLE WITH A SPLAT)
KURT: That, my friends, is your mosquito’s wing, magnified a hundred thousand diameters!
(MUSIC … AN ACCENT)
JUDD: And I’m telling you, what he threw onto the laboratory table, dripping with solution, was nothing less than a roughly square segment of wing. The veins, the fragments of muscles, the bony integument, and the web itself, a foot thick and tough as Plexiglass. And I thought … if the mosquito that came from were magnified that many times, it’d be … it’d be - you figure it out for yourself; it’d be nearly half a mile long, and it’s stand a good fifteen hundred feet tall! You wonder that I shuddered?
I don’t know how Kurt did this incredible thing.
I don’t want to know.
All I know is that he did magnify what had been a piece of living insect-flesh to a chunk of tough leather and sinew more than a yard square.
Yes, we needed our drinks then and Kurt was in his glory.
KURT: Why, think of the commercial possibilities of this thing, Judd. My golly, every woman in the world’ll wand a pair of mosquito-skin gloves! Think of shoes made of fly-leather! They’d last forever! And armour for battleships made out of the chitin from beetles! Why, one beetle would give you enough armour-plate for ten battleships! And bees, for example!
JEAN: I don’t want any bees two miles long, thank you.
KURT: (IMPATIENTLY) Oh, no! You’d only have to magnify a bee about a thousand times! Bout as big as a c??? Think of the honey production.
JEAN: I don’t want to think about it! It’s horrible!
KURT: How about it, Judd?
JUDD: (SLOWLY) It’s incredible, Kurt.
KURT: There’s the evidence.
JUDD: And I lifted the soggy mass of alien flesh and blood that had once been as small as the head of a pin - smaller; a tenth of a millimeter is a two-hundred-and-fiftieth of an inch! And I thought of a world peopled by ravening insects that would dwarf our highest buildings and make a shambles out of a whole countryside in a few short hours. And I thought I had imagined the ultimate in stark horror.
But I hadn’t.
For Jean was as badly shaken as I, and nervously she walked across to the instrument and looked down, shuddering, into the turgid water in the “coffin” tank at the base of the big microscope.
JEAN: (AWAY) What is that stuff, Kurt?
KURT: (UP) What stuff?
JEAN: In here?
KURT: In the tank? Saturated solution of sodium nitrite, spiked with alphadinitrophenol. Don’t try to taste it.
JEAN: Taste it! Good heavens, n- (AND SHE SCREAMS)
(MUSIC … AND THE MUSIC PICKS HER UP)
JUDD: Yes, you were right.
There was something else in that tank.
Something that stirred the heavy sludge at the bottom of the container; something that slithered and rustled and bumped soggily against the stainless steel sides.
JEAN: Something that didn’t seem to have a shape; something that seemed to be only a little denser than the solution it floated in; something that smelled of death and decay and a kind of ghoulish hunger.
KURT: Something no human eye has ever seen before; something that we knew existed something we had all of us searched for these many years that we might destroy it. You know what it is, of course, Judd.
JUDD: It was on the mosquito-wing, and of course we couldn’t see it.
KURT: From its present size it was about twenty-five ten-millionths of an inch before.
JUDD: And alive.
JEAN: Could you see its shape, Kurt?
KURT: (UNCOMFORTABLY) It seems to change.
JUDD: What do you think it is, Kurt?
KURT: It’s a virus.
JEAN: What kind, do you suppose?
KURT: I don’t know.
JUDD: If it gets out, we’ll soon find out.
JEAN: Nobody’s ever seen one.
KURT: Of course not. Because they’re filterable. They pass through the finest porcelain filters - through everything. You can’t isolate ‘em.
JUDD: You’ve done it.
KURT: Yeas, I have! Yes, I have, and I’ve got science’s greatest gift to mankind right there in that tank - Judd! Nobody’s ever been able to kill a virus, because they couldn’t see it! Now we’ve got it, and we’ll experiment on it till we find out how to kill it! And when we find out, we’ll find another, and do the same thing! And by - I tell you, Judd, we’re going to end disease in this world!
JUDD: Yes … if …
JEAN: What if it gets out of that tank?
KURT: It’ll die, and we’ll just have to start over. That ought to be easy, though. I mean - what’s the matter with you, Jean?
JEAN: You think it’ll die if it gets out?
KURT: Of course.
JEAN: How long was it on that mosquito-wing?
KURT: Why, I mounted that this afternoon, and -
JEAN: And it went through all that electronic stuff, and it isn’t dead yet …
KURT: Well, but -
JUDD: I know what she means, Kurt. Maybe you can’t kill it.
KURT: (AFTER A PAUSE) Why, that’s nonsense.
JUDD: Is it?
KURT: I’ll show you. If I can get one, I can always get another, Judd.
SOUND: (HE WALKS AWAY)
KURT: I’ll just kill this specimen here, just to show you, and then we can.
SOUND: (HE OPENS THE TANK LID)
KURT: find another one and - (HE STOPS)
JUDD: (AFTER A MOMENT) What are you doing, Kurt? Kurt?
KURT: Judd … it’s gone …
(MUSIC … AN ACCENT)
JUDD: And three frightened people searched that house from cellar to attic in those long, slow hours between midnight and dawn, and it was almost seven in the morning, broad daylight, athat we found … what had been Dinty, Kurt’s Siamese cat.
It didn’t look much like a cat anymore.
And alongside it, this thing, twice as large as it had seemed when we first saw it.
It seemed … contented.
We got pails, and a broom and a fire-shovel. And as we lifted it up - it weighed very little, but it was sticky - as we lifted it up, it divided neatly into two parts, and the one that dropped to the floor started to move briskly away.
It had fed, and it had reproduced, simply, efficiently, like all things near the bottom of the evolutionary scale. And for a moment, I thought I saw this gleam from the new thing on the floor … a gleam like the one I used to see sometimes in the blue eyes of Kurt’s Siamese cat …
And at last we dumped both the things back into the tank, and sat staring at each other, in the cheerful sunshine that peered inquisitively through the window. We held the greatest enemy of mankind captive; and captive, he was a thousand times greater enemy. A hundred thousand times.
KURT: We’ve got to kill ‘em , Judd.
JEAN: How, Kurt?
JUDD: What’s poison to them?
KURT: We’ll try everything.
JEAN: We’d better start.
JUDD: Burn them, maybe, Kurt?
JEAN: Or starve them.
JUDD: That one lived a long time without …. eating.
KURT: And as soon as it ate, it - reproduced itself.
JEAN: Well …
JUDD: What, Jean?
JEAN: I’m just wondering. We sit here and talk …
KURT: What do you want to do?
JEAN: Kurt, hadn’t we better get someone who has done research on viruses - who knows something about them?
KURT: Who knows anything about them?
JUDD: Patterson, at Cook County.
KURT: He’d think we were crazy.
JEAN: He wouldn’t, once he saw these things.
KURT: Maybe you’re right, Jean.
JUDD: Kurt, will you stop sitting there and do something? Don’t you realize that the whole world -
KURT: Don’t blow your top, Judd. I’m just as scared as you are.
SOUND: (JEAN IS DIALING A SEVEN-DIGIT NUMBER)
KURT: Jean, who -
JEAN: Hello, Cook County? Let me talk to Dr. Patterson, please. Urgent? Yes .. I’m afraid it’s very urgent.
(MUSIC … FOR TRANSITION)
KURT: Well, Doctor?
PATTERSON: This is - just plain amazing, boys.
JUDD: Is it a virus?
PATTERSON: Near as I can tell.
JEAN: Well, how can we kill it? Them?
PATTERSON: I don’t know.
KURT: But look, Doctor Patterson -
PATTERSON: I want one of these things, Kurt.
KURT: What for?
PATTERSON: Well, I’m going to New York tonight, and I’m going to see Lamb and Sheehan and Mitchell, and if I can get Sandra Gerson I’ll get her, and we’re going to do some fast experimenting on this brute. And if I’m not mistaken, Kurt, you are going to go down in medical history along with Pasteur and Ehrlich and - what about it? Can I have him?
KURT: Doctor, I hate to let you take him out of the lab … can’t you kill him here?
PATTERSON: Dear boy, my colleagues would kill me if they ever heard of it. I’ll take good care of him, don’t you worry. What about it?
JUDD: I’d let him, Kurt.
JEAN: Yes, Kurt.
JUDD: After all, Kurt, we’re amateurs in this stuff. Dr. Patterson -
KURT: Okay. Okay, only take him and kill him! Kill him, I tell you!
PATTERSON: Jean, call the hospital and tell them to get me reservations on an airplane for New York right away, and then call Van Lengerre and Antoine and get me one of those covered buckets fishermen use, and then get me long distance to New York and …
(MUSIC … COVERS HIM)
JUDD: And so Jean and I drove the doctor out to the airport in his car … and we were mighty careful. Ogden Avenue is pretty bumpy, and we didn’t want to spill what the doctor had in that pail …
Kurt stayed at his place to keep an eye on the other one in the tank, and we promised to bring him back another bottle of gin when we came back. He was going to need it, he said.
As a matter of fact, he didn’t need it at all. Both Jean and I breathed a long sigh of relief when we got into the house. All this was a little too close to nightmare for us. Jean was almost cheerful.
JEAN: Kurt! Doctor Patterson got away all right!
(THERE IS NO ANWER)
JEAN: He’s in the lab, I guess.
SOUND: (SHE OPENS A DOOR)
JEAN: Kurt, we brought your bottle. What - you sitting in the dark? Kurt!
JUDD: The lid of the tank was open.
Against it leaned a figure in the familiar brown gabardine suit Kurt had been wearing. But there was something strangely limp about the figure, and I stepped across Jean’s body and seized the arm …
There wasn’t any arm.
There wasn’t anything at all except a brown gabardine suit that crumpled to the floor. And I picked it up, almost stupefied with horror, and something twitched near my foot, and there lay the thing …
No, I won’t tell you what it looked like.
All I could see were Kurt’s glasses lying across it, and the light shone on them in a way that …
And then I felt that fascination … the thing seemed to draw me down to the floor toward it, and I couldn’t help myself, and I bend down, and I put out a hand toward it, and the light flashed from the glasses into my eyes, and I felt sick, and
JUDD: And suddenly I was all right again, and I pulled myself up from the floor, and a seething rage just about over came me. I beat at the thing with a chair; nothing happened. It just lay there. I kicked it, it didn’t move. It might have been dead - except that I know it wasn’t. And then Jean - she leaped to the lab table and she struck a match, and she lit a Bunsen burner and she came back and thrust it right against the thing on the floor. And do you know what? It blazed up like high-test gasoline, and I knew we had it licked - but it divided again!
And before she could reach the new thing with the fire, it had slithered away somewhere - and it was gone … and our victory was only half complete.
(MUSIC … FOR BG)
JEAN: Well, anyway, we’ve got it now, Judd.
JUDD: Yes, we’ve got it now. And some day we’ll find out how to kill it. No, this one doesn’t react to fire. Nothing we’ve done so far seems to do any good. But we’re trying. We’re trying. And we may succeed. I hope we’ll succeed. We’ll have to, or …
Well, you see, it’s worse than you think.
Dr. Patterson never got to New York.
His plane crashed somewhere.
I don’t know exactly where.
But he had the thing with him, and … everybody was killed in the crash …
And those things reproduce after they feed. So we’ve got to find a way to kill this one - and then Jean and I are going hunting for the others. We hope we’ll find them.
Just sit still. Just sit perfectly still, and don’t move your hands … just relax …
(MUSIC … THEME … FADE FOR)
ANNCR: The title of tonight’s “Quiet, Please!” story was “A Hundred Thousand Diameters.” It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and t he man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.
CHAPPELL: And Dan(??) Sutton(??) was Kurt; Ann (??) Seymour(??) played Jean, and Dr. Patterson was Art (??) Kohl (??). The music for “Quiet, Please!” is played by Albert Burhmann. Now for a word about next week, here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.
COOPER: None of the characters you overheard tonight is based upon any living or dead person, of course; they’re all fictitious. Next week “Quiet, Please!” will be called “Not Responsible After 30 Years”.
CHAPPELL: And until next week, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.
(MUSIC…THEME … FADE FOR)
ANNCR: “Quiet, Please!” comes to you from New York.
THIS IS THE MUTUAL BROADCASTING SYSTEM..
WRITER WILLIS COOPER
PROGRAM TITLE LIGHTS OUT
CHICAGO OUTLET WMAQ
(11:30 - 12:00 Midnight)
(DECEMBER 4, 1935)
VOICE: Lights out, everybody!
SOUND: THIRTEEN CHIME NOTES
BEHIND THE CHIME NOTES:
WOMAN'S VOICE: (SOBBING) Oh... it's killing him - it's killing him -
WIND UP ON ELEVENTH CHIME NOTE
G O N G
SOUND OF STIRRING LIQUID IN GRADUATE. SET DOWN THE GRADUATE, AND:
DR. BAUMEISTER: Ready with your notes, Laferski?
LAFERSKI: All ready, doctor.
BAUMEISTER: Experiment Number 331.
LAFERSKI: Yes sir.
BAUMEISTER: Don't yell 'yes, sir' at me every time I open my mouth! Pay attention!
LAFERSKI: Ye - ahem.
BAUMEISTER: Experiment Number 331. Got that?
BAUMEISTER: Synthetic protoplasm. Formula B-22.
BAUMEISTER: Temperature 34 degrees Centigrade. Quantity four hundred and - (LOOKING AT THE GRADUATE) forty c.c.
LAFERSKI: 34 degrees. 440 cc.
BAUMEISTER: Reactions. Original solution reacts exactly as all former solutions. (STIRRING GRADUATE) On application of formula FO11 to protoplasm,.....no reactions.
LAFERSKI: No reaction.
BAUMEISTER: (STIRRING SOLUTION) Application of heat...slight effervescense, followed by breaking down of entire solution into component parts.
LAFERSKI: Got it.
BAUMEISTER: Shut up, Laferski. I'll do the talking. Application of acid - G-two-S-O-four.
LAFERSKI: Sulphuric acid...
BAUMEISTER: No change. Blast the thing, anyway! Why do I fool away my time on such idiotic experiments? Answer me, Laferski! Why do I?
LAFERSKI: I don't know, doctor.
BAUMEISTER: Shut up! What's the number of this - 331? Three hundred and thirty-one times! And nothing but negative results! I'm done! I'm done, I tell you!
CRASH AS HE SLAMS GRADUATE ON FLOOR
LAFERSKI: But, Dr. Baumeister...
BAUMEISTER: Shut up! Shut up! I tell you! Are you going to try to tell me - are you - are you . (HE SLOWS DOWN AS HE LOOKS AT THE STUFF HE'S THROWN ON THE FLOOR) Laferski! Do - do you see....
LAFERSKI: Huh? What?
BAUMEISTER: Fool! The floor! Look at it!
LAFERSKI: Yes, sir --
BAUMEISTER: Idiot! Fool! Numbskull! Get me a beaker - quick!
LAFERSKI: Y-yes, sir - what - what is it, doctor?
BAUMEISTER: Unless I'm very badly mistaken, Laferski...unless I'm very badly mistaken - this stuff is - by gad, it is!
LAFERSKI: Is what?
BAUMEISTER: It's alive!
LAFERSKI: It is?
BAUMEISTER: Laferski, do you know what I've done? Do you know? Answer me! Do you -
LAFERSKI: You spilled the stuff on the floor ...
BAUMEISTER: (SLAPS HIM IN THE PUSS) You idiot! I've created life! Synthetic life! I put a lot of chemicals in a beaker! I mixed them - and they live! Laferski, they live! I did it! I did it! I'm the greatest chemist in the world! I've created synthetic life! The goal of scientists since time began - and I've done it!
BAUMEISTER: Now - now, my little darling...my little beauty.. my own - (HE LAUGHS MERRILY) It can be done! It has been done! I did it! I, Paul Baumeister, that everybody said was crazy! Laferski, we're going to get drunk, you and I! Oh, but we're not - we're going to watch over this little - thing, and nurture it, and feed it, and watch it grow, and -
LAFERSKI: How do you know it's alive, Doctor?
BAUMEISTER: Look, nitwit, look! Did you ever see movement like that in a dead chemical solution? Watch! While I jab this glass rod into it - watch! Look!
LAFERSKI: (AMAZED) It - it moved ....
BAUMEISTER: It feels - it's afraid - it's alive! Laferski, I tell you, it's alive!
LAFERSKI: Gosh....it sure is, ain't it?
BAUMEISTER: And how did I do it? Everything was just the same as before -
LAFERSKI: Except you throwed it on the floor, doctor.
BAUMEISTER: I did! I did! Now, what was on the floor - did I spill some chemical - did I -
LAFERSKI: Something must have got mixed with the stuff when you throwed it on the floor, doctor, I bet.
BAUMEISTER: Ass! Utter ass! Go out and find something for this thing to eat!
LAFERSKI: Huh? What'll I get it?
BAUMEISTER: Wait. I know. Let's find out something. Come here, Laferski. Come here to me.
LAFERSKI: Now, doc - now what you gonna do - now -
BAUMEISTER: Here, Laferski. Stick your finger into the beaker here -
LAFERSKI: No - no -
BAUMEISTER: Stick your finger right in there - do as I tell you! Right into the stuff - that's it!
LAFERSKI: Ugh. It's slimy, doctor - (HE CRIES OUT IN PAIN) It bit me!
BAUMEISTER: Nonsense! How could it! Hold your hand still!
LAFERSKI MOANS IN PAIN
BAUMEISTER: Let's see that finger! Ha! Look at it - look at it, Laferski!
LAFERSKI: The - the end of it's gone.... oooh, and look - the thing's getting bigger!
BAUMEISTER LAUGHS GAILY AND A LITTLE NUTTILY INTO
G O N G
LAFERSKI: (SCARED) Golly, doc, what are we gonna do with the darn thing?
BAUMEISTER: How big is it this morning, Laferski?
LAFERSKI: Doc, honest. When I left the laboratory last night it was only about the size of a baseball.
BAUMEISTER: How big is it now?
LAFERSKI: You know what we gave it to eat last night?
BAUMEISTER: Those white mice...
LAFERSKI: Doc, their skeletons is layin' on the floor alongside the bench where the thing is - and it's big as a punkin now...
BAUMEISTER: (SLAPS HIM) You lie!
(ALMOST CRYING) Doc, I'm tellin' you. Come and look at it.
BAUMEISTER: I will! And if you lied to me -
LAFERSKI: I never lied, doc - honest I never -
BAUMEISTER: Come on!
THEY WALK ACROSS THE FLOOR, OPEN A DOOR.
BAUMEISTER: Good Lord!
LAFERSKI: You see, doc -
BAUMEISTER: That's wonderful! It's amazing! It's marvelous!
LAFERSKI: Doc, look out now - the dog-gone thing snapped at me -
BAUMEISTER: Snapped - you fool!
HE WALKS OVER TO THE TABLE
BAUMEISTER: By gad. I wouldn't have believed it.
LAFERSKI: (OFF) Look out, doc.
WE HEAR THE THING SLURPING IN ITS GLASS CAGE
BAUMEISTER: Cursed thing's active. Look at those pseudopods, Laferski!
LAFERSKI: (CLOSER) At what?
BAUMEISTER: Look - it hasn't any definite shape of its own. But it can put out arms of protoplasm - see - look - watch now -
LAFERSKI: (SCREAMS) Doc! Look out!
BAUMEISTER: (A LITTLE SHAKEN) Gad, the thing's quick! It's like an amoeba but no amoeba in the world ever moved that fast! We're going to have to watch this thing, Laferski.
LAFERSKI: Doc, let's go away and leave it starve. I'm scared of it.
BAUMEISTER: Let it starve! After I created the thing? You're crazy.
LAFERSKI: But if we keep on feedin' it - there's no tellin' how big it'll get, doc - and first thing you know it'll - oh, gosh, doc...
BAUMEISTER: I know...but we'll have to take a chance...
LAFERSKI: Oh, gosh, doc, I don't want to - doc, I quit -
BAUMEISTER: Quit! You'll not quit! I know what you want to do - you want to bring the police here - you want to kill my - my -
LAFERSKI: Yeh. What is it, doc?
BAUMEISTER: I'm going to call it Amoeba. That's what it is -
LAFERSKI: Doc. Did you - did you notice when you said Amoeba?
BAUMEISTER: What? When I said Amoeba?
SLURP! GOES A PSEUDOPOD
BAUMEISTER: By the - Laferski! It's intelligent! It - it knows its name!
LAFERSKI: Oh, gosh, doc...
BAUMEISTER: (ENTRANCED) Amoeba...(SLURP) Amoeba....(SLURP) Amoeba...(LOUD SLURP!)
LAFERSKI: Look out, doc! That thing's reachin' for you!
BAUMEISTER: By George! I tell you I was positively fascinated by it. That nucleus of the cell there - like an eye....it almost had me hypnotised....
LAFERSKI: Doc, let's get out of here!
BAUMEISTER: Wait. Get that big - no. We'll carry it in and put it in the bathtub. It's too big to keep in this beaker...and in another day or so, if we feed it -
LAFERSKI: Oh, doc, let's kill it - please, doc -
BAUMEISTER: Kill it! I should say not! This is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me! Kill it - go open the bathroom door!
LAFERSKI: (GOING) Doc, I wish you wouldn't...
BAUMEISTER: Nonsense! I think I will slap a cover on this thing, though - just to be on the safe side...(SOUND OF PUTTING COVER ON GLASS JAR) Now, my friend - Amoeba - to your new home... (HE CHUCKLES AS HE WALKS TO THE BATHROOM)
LAFERSKI: I'm gettin' out o' here -
BAUMEISTER: Stand aside while I dump it in the tub.
GLUB! HE DUMPS IT IN THE BATHTUB
LAFERSKI: Ogh...it - it just kinda flows, doc...
BAUMEISTER: Look at it. Amoeba!
SLURP! GOES THE PSEUDOPOD
LAFERSKI: Ugh - doc, I'm gettin' sick!
BAUMEISTER: Good old Amoeba!
LAFERSKI: Doc! Doc! Look out!
BAUMEISTER: Huh? Oh, I -
LAFERSKI: Doc, that thing'll get you - it darn near had you that time!
G O N G
LAFERSKI: Oh, my gosh, doc...it's a murderer! A murderer! that's what it is!
BAUMEISTER: What's the matter, Laferski?
LAFERSKI: You gotta do something about it now. That's all. You gotta do something.
BAUMEISTER: What's the matter?
LAFERSKI: Doc, my cat. He ate my cat.
BAUMEISTER: He ate your cat? (HE LAUGHS A LITTLE)
LAFERSKI: He sure did, Doc. The cat - my poor cat - he sleeps in the laboratory, doc - I mean he did sleep...and he wandered into the bathroom and it grabbed him! It grabbed him, doc, and ate him!
BAUMEISTER: Hm. Haven't you been feeding it regularly?
LAFERSKI: Sure I have. Sure I have, doc. I gave it all that raw beef you said - but it's always hungry. Doc, we gotta do something about it.
BAUMEISTER: Let's go see it. How big is it this morning?
LAFERSKI: (SOLEMNLY) It just about half filled the tub, doc. And it keeps snatching with them - them gooey arms all the time....
BAUMEISTER: We'll have a look at it.
LAFERSKI: I don't want to see it.
BAUMEISTER: Come on along! What if it should grab me? (HE LAUGHS) I'd need you to pull me out.
LAFERSKI: Well, let me tell you, doc, if it keeps on hypnotisin' like it done before - I won't look at it more'n a half a second. I'm scared of it.
BAUMEISTER: Come on.
THEY WALK TO THE LABORATORY DOOR AND OPENS IT
LAFERSKI: Notice that funny smell in here, doc? Like a - like a old slaughter-house.
BAUMEISTER: The characteristic smell of protoplasm, Laferski! Notice the phosphorus smell?
LAFERSKI: Like matches.
BAUMEISTER: That's protoplasm.
LAFERSKI: (AS THEY NEAR THE BATHROOM DOOR) Now be careful, doc. Be careful. The darn thing - no tellin' how big it is now...
BAUMEISTER: (OPENS THE DOOR) Hello, Amoeba, old fellow!
LOTS OF SLURPING. IT'S LOTS BIGGER
LAFERSKI: Guh! Makes me sick.
BAUMEISTER: (LAUGHS) Amoeba!
LOTS MORE SLURPING
LAFERSKI: See how much bigger it's got, Doc? Gosh I bet it could eat a horse or -
BAUMEISTER: Or a - man, Laferski?
LAFERSKI: (SHUDDERS) Don't, doc...
BAUMEISTER: Wait. Look, Laferski.
LAFERSKI: I'm scared to look at it much, doc.
BAUMEISTER: Look at it, Laferski. Look at it, curse you!
LAFERSKI: I'm scared to, doc..
BAUMEISTER: I want to try an experiment, Laferski. Look at it - and look at it, I tell you!
LAFERSKI: (WHINES) Doc, I'm scared!
BAUMEISTER: You'll look at it if I have to -
SLURP! SAYS AMOEBA
LAFERSKI: I'm lookin' at it, doc -
BAUMEISTER: Watch closely now....
A PAUSE WHILE ONLY THE SLURPING IS HEARD
BAUMEISTER: (SOFTLY) Watch now...watch closely...
A LITTLE MORE SLURPING. THEN THE SLURPING SLOWS DOWN AND LAFERSKI SCREAMS!
BAUMEISTER: (LAUGHS) Did you see it, Laferski? Did you see it?
LAFERSKI: (SHAKEN) Doc...it - it - it turned into - you!
BAUMEISTER LAUGHS INTO
G O N G
LAFERSKI: But doc....what made it look like you?
BAUMEISTER: Laferski, we've discovered something amazing in this thing. An intelligent lower form of animal life. It's intelligent!
LAFERSKI: I'll say it is...gosh...
BAUMEISTER: I had a hunch, Laferski. A real hunch - and I was right!
LAFERSKI: But what made it turn into you?
BAUMEISTER: The thing has some power - I don't know exactly what it is. But it's a kind of hypnotism...an ability to visualize the object one is thinking of when you look at it...
LAFERSKI: But why -
BAUMEISTER: You thought it turned into me...because you were thinking of me at the time. That's what it was.
LAFERSKI: But, doc, I seen it turn into you. It just growed up into - oh, gosh, doc, I can't stand it...please let's kill it!
BAUMEISTER: Kill it! Kill the most interesting subject for experiment I've ever had? You're a fool, Laferski! I tell you you're an idiot! This is going to make me famous! Immortal, Laferski! Greater than all the other scientists that have ever lived!
LAFERSKI: Yeh....if it don't eat you up...
BAUMEISTER: How big is it today?
LAFERSKI: I ain't been in there. I ain't goin' in.
BAUMEISTER: Come on - we're going to visit it.
LAFERSKI: No, sir.
BAUMEISTER: Come on, I say.
LAFERSKI: I won't do it, doc - I won't -
BAUMEISTER: You will - you -
THE TELEPHONE RINGS
BAUMEISTER: Answer that!
LAFERSKI: Yeh. (LIFTS RECEIVER) Hello. Doctor Baumeister's laboratory. Yes ma'am.
BAUMEISTER: Who is it?
LAFERSKI: Yes ma'am, he's here.
BAUMEISTER: Who is it?
LAFERSKI: Your wife.
BAUMEISTER: (TAKES RECEIVER) Hello, darling. Nice to hear your voice. No, I can't make it. I'm sorry, Esther. I can't possibly get home for dinner. No, I'm sorry. You play three-handed bridge, then till I get there. No, I've got an extraordinarily important experiment here at the laboratory. I must stay here. Sorry, dear, I'll bring you something nice. Of course I do. Good-by, dear. (REPLACES RECEIVER)
LAFERSKI: Doc, I ain't goin' in there with you.
BAUMEISTER: You're going in if I have to drag you.
LAFERSKI: Doc, I -
BAUMEISTER: Come on!
LAFERSKI: Listen, doc -
BAUMEISTER: Come on!
SO HE DRAGS LAFERSKI WITH HIM. DOOR OPENS
BAUMEISTER: Come on, now -
BAUMEISTER: Huh? Why - Esther! How did you get in here?
ESTHER: Surprised, darling?
BAUMEISTER: Why, I - I was just talking to you on the telephone!
ESTHER: About coming home for dinner and bridge? (SHE LAUGHS) I've been right here all the time. Didn't you remember the extension telephone?
BAUMEISTER: Well - well - but - how did you get in?
ESTHER: Through the back door.
BAUMEISTER: Well, I'll be darned. I - you sure fooled me!
BAUMEISTER: I'd have sworn that you were home when you called -
ESTHER LAUGHS AGAIN. THERE IS THE SLIGHTEST SINISTER QUALITY IN HER LAUGH
ESTHER: Kiss me, dearest -
BAUMEISTER: But - er - Laferski -
ESTHER: Send Laferski away -
BAUMEISTER: (SLIGHTLY TRANCE-LIKE) Go away, Laferski -
ESTHER: Come to me, darling - kiss me - kiss me -
LAFERSKI: (SCREAMS) Doc! Don't, Doc! It ain't her! It's - the Amoeba!
WITH A LOUD SLURPING SOUND THE AMOEBA PLOPS ON THE FLOOR
LAFERSKI: I - I thought o' somethin' else for a second, Doc, an' - an' I seen it change -
SLURP SLURP GOES THE AMOEBA, CRAWLING TOWARD THEM
BAUMEISTER: But I -
LAFERSKI: Doc - look out! Quick - it's reachin' for you!
G O N G
BAUMEISTER: (SOBERLY) I guess you were right, Laferski. I - I was wrong. We've got to do something about it.
LAFERSKI: What'll we do, Doc?
BAUMEISTER: We've got to kill it some way.
LAFERSKI: How? You can't shoot it - or cut it -
BAUMEISTER: Bullets would go through that jelly like -
LAFERSKI: (SHUDDERS) Yeh. Oooh...it's an ugly thing.
BAUMEISTER: And that trick - you saved my life yesterday.
LAFERSKI: Yeh. I know it.
BAUMEISTER: If you hadn't yelled - gad, it looked like Esther. I'd have sworn...
LAFERSKI: And it talked, doc -
BAUMEISTER: You know what I think?
LAFERSKI: What, doc?
BAUMEISTER: I think it has the faculty of assuming a shape - any shape that occurs to it. And I think the way it gets these - impulses is through telepathy.
LAFERSKI: Through what?
BAUMEISTER: Telepathy. Reading our minds....
LAFERSKI: Gosh, doc, how could it do that?
BAUMEISTER: We've created a devil. A devil, Laferski.
LAFERSKI: You mean it can be whatever you're thinkin' of?
LAFERSKI: Good gosh! Let's not think o' a lion or anything...
BAUMEISTER: (LAUGHS MIRTHLESSLY) That's truer than you think, Laferski.
LAFERSKI: Gosh....how we gonna kill it, Doc.
BAUMEISTER: I - don't know. I think probably fire is the only way.
BAUMEISTER: You and I are going out and get an oxy-acetylene torch. And then we're going in there and - kill it. That's what we're going to do.
LAFERSKI: But what if we think o' lions, or tigers, or something, Doc? It'll -
BAUMEISTER: We'll think of mice - or no - a mouse could run too quickly, and hide -
LAFERSKI: A - a fish, doc! Then it couldn't breathe. There wouldn't be no water!
BAUMEISTER: We'll decide that later. First thing is to go and get the torch. Come on, there's no time to waste. It's growing bigger every minute!
LAFERSKI: Gee, doc, I'm scared!
BAUMEISTER: You're no more scared than I am, Laferski. I - I know now what Frankenstein felt like....
G O N G
FADE IN SOUND OF DOORBELL. NO ANSWER. RING AGAIN. NO ANSWER. RING AGAIN. PAUSE. UNLOCK DOOR AND OPEN IT
ESTHER: Paul! Oh, Paul! (PAUSE) Paul! Oh, my goodness! He's gone! (WALKING AROUND THE LABORATORY) Paul! Paul, dear! Oh, bother! He must be in the other room. (SHE WALKS ACROSS THE FLOOR AND OPENS THE DOOR)
BAUMEISTER: Esther, my dear!
ESTHER: Oh, Paul! I called and called!
BAUMEISTER: I heard you, darling. I was busy for a moment. Come in.
ESTHER: What you doing?
BAUMEISTER: Oh, working on an experiment.
ESTHER: What kind of an experiment, darling?
BAUMEISTER: Oh, too complicated an experiment for you to understand, dear. Chemicals and things.
ESTHER: I could try to understand it, darling.
BAUMEISTER: Oh, no. (LAUGHS) Don't bother, darling. What have you been doing?
ESTHER: Oh, shopping.
BAUMEISTER: Well, sit down and tell me about it.
ESTHER: I got you a new tie.
BAUMEISTER: Did you? How nice!
ESTHER: Want to see it?
BAUMEISTER: Oh, I'd rather have you sit on my lap and tell me you love me.
ESTHER: Oh, Paul...
BAUMEISTER: Won't you, dear?
ESTHER: Why - you're so different today, darling...
BAUMEISTER: Different - what do you mean?
HIS VOICE BECOMES A LITTLE THICKER
ESTHER: Why, Paul...
BAUMEISTER: Come and sit on my - lap - dear -
ESTHER: Paul, I - what's the matter - (SHE SCREAMS)
AND OLD AMOEBA GOES SLURP SLURP SLURP. HER SCREAMS ARE MUFFLED AND FINALLY DIE DOWN BEHIND THE SLURPING SOUNDS INTO
G O N G
A DOOR OPENS.
BAUMEISTER: Come in, hurry, Laferski!
LAFERSKI: Gotta get this hose all in...
BAUMEISTER: Here. Set the oxygen tank down here. (SOUND) That's it.
LAFERSKI: You know how to hook this thing up, Doc?
BAUMEISTER: Yes. Here - fasten this hose on there. That's it.
SOUND OF CLINKING METAL ETC.
LAFERSKI: Now what?
BAUMEISTER: Fasten the nozzle on here...that's the way...Now -
LAFERSKI: Doc, I'm awful scared...
BAUMEISTER: It'll all be over in a minute...why, there's - there's Esther's purse! I -
LAFERSKI: Gosh, doc!
BAUMEISTER: I wonder - oh, I wonder if -
LAFERSKI: Oh, doc -
BAUMEISTER: Come on - pick up that tank. I'll take this one. Quick!
THEY HURRY ACROSS THE FLOOR. OPEN THE DOOR
ESTHER: Oh, you found my purse, did you, Paul?
BAUMEISTER: Esther! I was - I was so afraid -
ESTHER: (LAUGHS) Afraid of what, dear?
BAUMEISTER: I - I - oh, Esther -
ESTHER: Darling, you're so funny!
BAUMEISTER: You - you haven't been in that room -
ESTHER: What room, darling?
BAUMEISTER: That one there -
ESTHER: Oh. No, I wasn't in there, dear. Haven't you got a kiss for me?
LAFERSKI: (SCREAMS) Doc - doc - look! On the floor there!
BAUMEISTER: What -
LAFERSKI: A skeleton! Skeleton!
LAFERSKI: Look - she's turning to a skeleton too! Oh, doc, doc - what -
BAUMEISTER: It's got her - it's got her - the amoeba!
SLURP SLURP GOES THE AMOEBA
LAFERSKI: It got her - it got her, doc -
BAUMEISTER: Oh, Esther - Esther darling -
ESTHER: What's the matter, dearest -
BAUMEISTER: Dearest - oh, Esther, Esther, I thought -
LAFERSKI: Stay away from it, doc! Don't go near it - a mouse - doc, think of a mouse -
SQUEAK SQUEAK GOES THE MOUSIE
BAUMEISTER: It's the Amoeba - quick - the fire - the fire, Laferski - it's got us...it's got us...
VOICE: (DEEP, COMMANDING) You thought to create life, Paul Baumeister - you created it, but you cannot control it. I am your master. I am your doom -
LAFERSKI: You are not! You're a -
BAUMEISTER: Esther - Esther -
ESTHER: Darling Paul...
LAFERSKI: No, no, doc - don't go near her -
BAUMEISTER: Esther - dearest Esther - it got you - it got you -
ESTHER: Come to me, dearest...Paul, my lover...
BAUMEISTER: Esther! (HE SCREAMS)
AND THE AMOEBA GOES SLURP SLURP SLURP WITH THE DOC SCREAMING UNTIL HE'S ALL EATEN UP. LAFERSKI IS WHINING AND CRYING - AND THEN!
BAUMEISTER: (PLEASANTLY) What's the matter, Laferski, my boy?
LAFERSKI: Doc! Doc! What happened -
BAUMEISTER: Why, nothing happened, Laferski - here, give me your hand -
LAFERSKI: No, no - you're not him - you're not the doc!
BAUMEISTER: Why, you fool, I -
SLURP SLURP ETC
LAFERSKI: I know you, you devil - (SOBBING) I know you - I'll kill you - you - you devil - you - I'll kill you - you killed doc -
BAUMEISTER: It's no use, Laferski. Don't try to use that torch. It won't work at all, I assure you.
LAFERSKI: Won't it, honest, doc - (HE SCREAMS) Fool me, would you! You're scared of the fire! You - you -
GUBBY VOICE: Think of a demon, Laferski - think of a terrible demon - ten feet tall - (THE VOICE RISES IN INTENSITY) A demon, Laferski.
LAFERSKI: I will not! I won't! You're an amoeba. You're not -
ESTHER: Stanley, my dear - I love you...I've forgotten Paul - Stanley, be mine, my darling -
LAFERSKI: I'll fix you - I'll fix you - fire - that's what'll fix you - fire -
GUBBY VOICE: No - no - think of horrible things - think of demons -
BAUMEISTER: It's no use, Laferski -
ESTHER: I love you, Stanley.
LAFERSKI: No - no - no - I've got it - fire! Fire - that's what'll kill you! Fire - ha! Hahahahahaha!
WITH A ROAR THE OXY-ACETYLENE TORCH STARTS
ESTHER: (SCREAMS) No - no, Stanley -
BAUMEISTER: Stop it, Laferski -
LAFERSKI: Kill you - kill you -
THE SLURPING NOISES START
LAFERSKI: Kill you - fire - kill you -
AND THE SLURPING NOISES DISSOLVE INTO THE HISS OF MELTING PROTOPLASM.
LAFERSKI: Die - die - die -
ESTHER: (DYING) Oh, Stanley..I love...
SLURP SLURP SLURP AS IT DIES
G O N G
ANNOUNCER: Lights Out, which is especially written for radio, comes to you each Wednesday night at this time from our Chicago studios.