Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: X Minus One
Show: Hostess
Date: Dec 12 1956

CAST:
ANNOUNCER
ROSE SMOLLETT
DRAKE SMOLLETT
HARG THOLAN
NBC ANNCR (1 line)

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 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 maybe 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, "Hostess" by Isaac Asimov.

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

ROSE:

(NARRATES) I was so happy about it when I came home; almost triumphant. I dashed in the front door, peeled off my gloves, threw my hat on the side table, and tossed my coat over the back of a chair.

DRAKE:

Well, you missed supper.

ROSE:

Drake, we're going to have him here.

DRAKE:

Who here? What are you talking about?

ROSE:

The doctor from Hawkin's Planet! Didn't you realize that was what today's conference was about?

DRAKE:

When you say the doctor from Hawkin's Planet, do you mean the Hawkinsite you've got at the Institute?

ROSE:

Well, of course. Who else could I possibly mean?

DRAKE:

And may I ask what the devil you mean by saying we'll have him here?

ROSE:

Darling, the Hawkinsite would like to stay at a private house somewhere, where he won't be bothered with official ceremony; where he'll be able to proceed more according to his own likes and dislikes. I find it quite understandable.

DRAKE:

Yeah, well, whenever you start using formal sentences, I know you're hiding extreme irritation.

ROSE:

Well, you don't seem to be trying to hide it at all. Well, what's the matter?

DRAKE:

Look, I don't see where we've got room for extraterrestrial visitors.

ROSE:

Are you serious? He can stay in the spare room. Honestly, Drake, all we have to do is show a certain amount of adaptability.

DRAKE:

Sure, just a little adaptability.

ROSE:

(SIGHS)

DRAKE:

The Hawkinsite breathes cyanide. We'll just adapt ourselves to that, I suppose!

ROSE:

He carries cyanide in a little cylinder. You won't even notice it.

DRAKE:

Mm hm. And what else is there about them I won't notice?

ROSE:

Nothing else. They're perfectly harmless. They're even vegetarians.

DRAKE:

And what about us? Do we eat meat ourselves -- or will that make us look like cannibals to him? I won't live on salads to suit him; I warn you.

ROSE:

Drake, it means very much to me.

DRAKE:

Well, why?

ROSE:

Because if he stays here for any length of time, I can study him real closely. Very little work has been done on the biology and psychology of the individual Hawkinsite or of any of the extraterrestrial intelligences. Surely, you must see the opportunity. He stays here; we speak to him, watch him, observe his habits--

DRAKE:

Look, look, I've spoken to men who were in charge of security groups watching various Hawkinsite missions on Earth. The missions stay in the rooms assigned to them. They don't leave for anything but the most important official business. They have nothing to do with Earthmen. It's quite obvious that they-- They're as revolted by us as I personally am by them.

ROSE:

Drake, he's a doctor. He's coming here for medical research, and I'll grant you that he probably doesn't enjoy staying with human beings and will probably find us perfectly horrible. But he must stay just the same!

DRAKE:

All right, all right. Have it your own way. (LIGHTLY) You're sure you don't want any coffee?

ROSE:

No. Drake -- you're not angry about this, are you?

DRAKE:

No. No, I'm not angry.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ROSE:

(NARRATES) Most of my friends had been surprised when I married Drake because they couldn't understand my marrying a policeman. I explained he wasn't simply a policeman; he was a member of the World Security Board. But most of the staff at the institute thought it rather odd that I hadn't married a biologist -- or at least an anthropologist; even a chemist. But certainly not a policeman.

I was waiting for Drake with some apprehension that evening as I sat in the living room. Harg Tholan, the Hawkinsite, was standing quietly in the middle of the room. He was not sitting, since he was not anatomically constructed to sit. He stood on two sets of limbs placed close together, while a third pair, entirely different in their construction, were suspended from a region that would have been the upper chest in the human being. His skin was hard, glistening and ridged, and his face wore a distant resemblance to something alienly bovine. [X]

THOLAN:

Mrs. Smollett, you must forgive my English. The construction of my mouth, combined with the absence of incisors and canine teeth, is an obstacle to clear speech.

ROSE:

I think you speak very well.

THOLAN:

Thank you.

ROSE:

Um, my husband will be home soon, and then we'll eat.

THOLAN:

(CONFUSED) Your husband? Husband?

ROSE:

Yes. Yes, you know -- Mr. Smollett.

THOLAN:

(CHUCKLES) A male. Of course. You must forgive me, Mrs. Smollett. Perhaps the greatest source of confusion among the five known races of the Galaxy, lies in the differences among them in regard to their sex life and the social institutions that grow around it.

ROSE:

I understand that.

THOLAN:

The concept of husband and wife, for instance, exists only on Earth. I can achieve a sort of intellectual understanding of what that means; never an emotional one.

ROSE:

Uh, Dr. Tholan, I've consulted the Institute in preparing a menu and I trust you'll find nothing in it that will upset you.

SOUND:

FRONT DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

ROSE:

(CALLS) Drake? Drake, is that you?

DRAKE:

(OFF, UNHAPPY) Yeah.

ROSE:

(CALLS) I'm in the living room, dear.

DRAKE:

(APPROACHES) Well, I suppose he's all delivered complete--

ROSE:

Drake ...

DRAKE:

Hm? (SEES THOLAN) Oh.

ROSE:

... this is Dr. Harg Tholan of Hawkin's Planet. Dr. Tholan, my husband.

DRAKE:

(GUARDED) Oh, good evening, Dr. Tholan.

THOLAN:

(GREETING) Mr. Smollett.

DRAKE:

Would you care for a drink?

THOLAN:

(PUZZLED) I'm not particularly thirsty.

ROSE:

(NERVOUS, EXPLAINS) On Earth there is a custom of drinking liquids which have been fortified with ethyl alcohol. We - find it stimulating.

THOLAN:

Oh, yes. Afraid, then, that I must decline. Ethyl alcohol would interfere most unpleasantly with my metabolism.

DRAKE:

(WRY) Well, so it does to Earthmen, too. (POLITE) But I understand, Dr. Tholan. Would you object to my drinking?

THOLAN:

Of course not.

DRAKE:

Good. I need one. A stiff one.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ROSE:

(NARRATES) He stood at the table. I tried not to look at him as he ate. His wide lipless mouth split his face alarmingly as he ingested food, and in chewing, his large jaws moved from side to side. It was evidence of his ungulate ancestry. Found myself wondering whether he would chew his cud later, and then I was afraid that Drake would get the same idea and leave the table in disgust. But he was taking everything quite calmly. [X]

DRAKE:

I imagine, Dr. Tholan, that the cylinder at your side holds cyanide, hm?

THOLAN:

Quite so.

DRAKE:

Pure cyanide?

THOLAN:

I hope you are not considering possible danger. I know the gas is highly poisonous to you and I do not need a great deal. None of it emerges except when I actually suck at the tube, which is fixed at the corner of my mouth.

DRAKE:

I see. And you really must have the gas to live?

THOLAN:

Are you not a biologist, Mr. Smollett?

DRAKE:

No, Dr. Tholan, merely a minor government official. My wife's friends call me a policeman. Tell me, what happens if you don't breathe cyanide? Do you, uh, just go? (SNAPS HIS FINGERS) Like that?

THOLAN:

Oh, not quite. The absence of it would be equivalent to, uh, slow strangulation.

DRAKE:

Mm hm.

THOLAN:

The results are very painful; difficult to treat. I've done some research on the problem.

DRAKE:

I find it difficult to keep thinking of you as a doctor.

THOLAN:

I understand what you mean. I find it difficult to think of you as a policeman.

DRAKE:

(CHUCKLES) I gather that you're not here on a pleasure trip, huh?

THOLAN:

No. I intend to study this queer planet you call Earth.

DRAKE:

Queer? In what way?

THOLAN:

It is always amazing to me to find how little you Earthmen understand your own characteristics. There are five intelligent races in the Galaxy. Over and over, it is you Earthmen, more than any of the others, who are unique. Your people are the only ones which find hydrogen cyanide poisonous. Yours is the only form of intelligent life which is carnivorous. Yours is the only form of life which has not developed from the grazing animal. And, most interesting of all, yours is the only form of intelligent life known which stops growing upon reaching maturity.

DRAKE:

Well, you don't look very large, Dr. Tholan. I should say that you're an inch taller than I, which would make you six foot two. Are you young, or are you just small on Hawkin's Planet?

THOLAN:

Neither. We grow at a diminishing rate with the years, so that at my age it would take fifteen years to grow an additional inch. But we never entirely stop. And, of course, as a consequence, we never entirely die.

SOUND:

DRAKE DROPS HIS UTENSIL ON PLATE

DRAKE:

Did you hear that, Rose?

ROSE:

I never knew that before.

DRAKE:

(TO THOLAN) You mean, people on Hawkin's Planet are immortal?

THOLAN:

No people are truly immortal. Few of us live more than several centuries of your time. Still, it is unpleasant to think that death may come involuntarily. It is something which, to us, is extremely horrible.

DRAKE:

(WRY) Oh, we're quite used to it.

THOLAN:

You Earthmen live with the thought; we do not. This is why we are disturbed to find that the incidence of Inhibition Death has been increasing in recent years.

DRAKE:

What is this Inhibition Death?

THOLAN:

A pathological cessation of growth. It's a wasting disease, a tragic one, and absolutely incurable. It's fatal within a year.

DRAKE:

What causes it?

THOLAN:

Mr. Smollett, we know nothing about the cause of the disease.

DRAKE:

Well, then, why did you come to Earth to study it?

THOLAN:

Because, again, Earthmen are unique. They are the only intelligent beings who are immune. The Inhibition Death affects all other races, while Earthmen are immune. Somewhere in the biochemistry of the Earthite, there is the secret of that immunity. How interesting it would be to find it.

DRAKE:

Well, now, look here, you can't say that Earthmen are immune. From where I sit, it looks as if the incidence is a hundred per cent. All Earthmen stop growing and all Earthmen die. We've all got the Inhibition Death.

THOLAN:

Earthmen live up to seventy years after the cessation of growth. That is not death as we know it. Your equivalent disease is rather one of unrestrained growth. Cancer, you call it.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ROSE:

(NARRATES) Drake was being pleasant to Dr. Tholan. I wasn't sure whether it was for my sake or for his own. Drake has never gone out of his way to please me. Sometimes, when I'm gloomy, I look at him across the table and ask myself, "Why did he marry me?"

Then suddenly, after dinner, in the living room, Dr. Tholan asked a question which surprised me. [X]

THOLAN:

You are a policeman, Mr. Smollett?

DRAKE:

Yes.

THOLAN:

I wonder, could you show me through one of the police departments on your planet?

DRAKE:

Well, I don't belong to a police department in exactly the way you imagine. However, I have some contacts in the New York City department.

THOLAN:

Would I be able to visit the Missing Persons Bureau?

DRAKE:

Why are you interested in the Missing Persons Bureau?

THOLAN:

Because there, again, you are unique. There's no such thing as a missing person on our planet. We're always aware of each other's exact location, no matter where on the planet we might be.

ROSE:

Can you feel such awareness even now? On Earth?

THOLAN:

You mean across space? No, I'm afraid not. But you see the importance of the matter. All the uniqueness of Earth should be linked. If the lack of this sense can be explained, perhaps the immunity to Inhibition Death can be, also. Tell me truthfully, Mr. Smollett -- if Mrs. Smollett were to leave this room and enter another without your having seen her do so, would you really not be aware of her location?

DRAKE:

I really would not.

THOLAN:

Amazing. (BEAT) Please do not be offended by the fact that I find it revolting as well.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

ROSE:

Drake? (NO ANSWER) Drake?

DRAKE:

(RELUCTANT) Yes, I'm awake. (EXHALES)

ROSE:

Why were you talking about the Inhibition Death to Dr. Tholan?

DRAKE:

I'm taking an interest in your work, Rose. You've always wanted me to take an interest.

ROSE:

I'd rather you weren't sarcastic.

DRAKE:

Rose, I'm tired. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

ROSE:

No, right now.

DRAKE:

(STERN) I want no questions from you and no interference. You do your job, and I'll do mine.

ROSE:

The nature of my job is open and known.

DRAKE:

The nature of my job isn't, by definition. But I'll tell you this. Our six-legged friend is here in this house for some definite reason. You weren't picked as biologist-in-charge for any random reason. Two days ago, he'd been inquiring about me at the Commission. But that's my job and I won't discuss it with you any further. Do you understand?

ROSE:

No. (BEAT) But I won't question you if you don't want me to.

DRAKE:

All right. Then go to sleep.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG

ROSE:

(NARRATES) I lay stiffly on my back and the minutes passed, then the quarter-hours. I was trying to fit the pieces together. One picture remained clear in my mind. It hovered over me mockingly. At the end of the evening, the Hawkinsite had turned to me just before he left the room.

THOLAN:

Good night, Mrs. Smollett. You are a most charming hostess.

ROSE:

(NARRATES) I wanted to giggle then. How could he call me a charming hostess? To him, I must have been a horror, a monstrosity with too few limbs and too narrow a face.

But then, I saw Drake. He'd turned white! For one instant, his eyes had burned with something that looked like terror. I'd never before known Drake to show fear of anything, and the picture of that instant of pure panic remained with me until all my thoughts finally sagged into the oblivion of sleep.

I remember one question that nagged at me through the haze.

"Why did he marry me?"

MUSIC:

AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT

THOLAN:

I found your Missing Persons Bureau interesting in that the large majority of missing persons are males.

ROSE:

Oh, well, that's not mysterious, Dr. Tholan. You simply didn't realize the economic setup we have on Earth.

DRAKE:

My wife is an example of the minority of women who are capable of making their own way in the world.

THOLAN:

Would you call the Missing Persons Bureau of New York a fair sampling of such cases in the planet at large?

DRAKE:

Why, yes, I should think so.

THOLAN:

Is there, then, an economic explanation for the fact that since interstellar travel has been developed, the percentage of young males among the missing is more pronounced than ever?

DRAKE:

That's even less of a mystery than the other. Nowadays, the runaway can hop the nearest space freighter. They're always looking for crewmen, no questions asked.

THOLAN:

It's almost always young men in their first year of marriage.

ROSE:

Well, that's just the time a man's troubles seem the greatest. If he survives the first year, there's usually no need to disappear at all.

THOLAN:

Would it offend you if I disconnected for a period of time?

DRAKE:

Disconnected?

ROSE:

It's like sleep.

DRAKE:

Oh.

ROSE:

(TO THOLAN) I hope you haven't had too exhausting a day.

THOLAN:

It's just that I've been absorbing so many new and unusual concepts that I feel the desire for a little disconnection.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

ROSE:

Drake, we've been sitting here for ten minutes. Aren't you going to speak to me?

DRAKE:

About what?

ROSE:

Last night, you said you'd speak to me tomorrow. Well, I'm ready now.

DRAKE:

I thought it was agreed that you wouldn't question me about my business in this matter.

ROSE:

I think it's too late for that. I know too much about your business by now.

DRAKE:

(INTENSE) What? What do you mean?

ROSE:

(INHALES) Drake, let go of my arm.

DRAKE:

What are you talking about?

ROSE:

Dr. Tholan thinks that Earth is spreading the Inhibition Death purposely. That's it, isn't it?

DRAKE:

Where did you get that idea?

ROSE:

It's true, isn't it?

DRAKE:

I want to know exactly why you say that. Don't play games with me, Rose. This is for keeps.

ROSE:

Why didn't you ask Dr. Tholan? He's an outstanding worker in the field. I looked over his papers this afternoon.

DRAKE:

And what are his theories about the origin of the disease? (NO ANSWER) Try to remember, Rose.

ROSE:

I - I think he blames Earth, but I think he admits they know nothing about how the disease is spread.

DRAKE:

Well, I'll find out about this right now.

SOUND:

DESK DRAWER OPENED ... GUN PICKED UP

ROSE:

Drake, what are you going to do? What's that?

DRAKE:

It's my gun.

SOUND:

CLICK OF GUN BEING READIED

DRAKE:

I'm going to ask him a few questions.

MUSIC:

BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ROSE:

(NARRATES) He ran out of the bedroom, down the corridor towards Dr. Tholan's room. I ran after him; caught him just as he entered the door. The Hawkinsite was standing there motionless, his eyes unfocused, his four standing limbs sprawled out in four directions as far as they would go. [X]

DRAKE:

(LOW) Now keep quiet. He'll gradually become aware of me. Get out of here.

ROSE:

(LOW) No, Drake. What are you doing?

DRAKE:

(LOW) Quiet. There, you see? The skin on his face is beginning to quiver. (UP, A WARNING) That's about all, Dr. Tholan. Don't throw in connection with any of the limbs. Your sense organs and the voice box will be quite enough.

THOLAN:

Why do you invade my disconnection chamber? And why are you armed? What do you want?

DRAKE:

The answer to certain questions.

THOLAN:

With a gun in your hand? I'm sorry, Mr. Smollett, that the duties toward a guest are so badly understood on Earth.

DRAKE:

You're no guest of mine, Dr. Tholan. You entered my home under false pretenses.

THOLAN:

You had better shoot. It will save time.

DRAKE:

You are convinced that you'll answer no questions? Well, that, in itself, is suspicious. It seems that you consider certain answers to be more important than your life.

THOLAN:

I consider the principle of courtesy to be very important. You, as an Earthman, may not understand.

DRAKE:

Perhaps not. But I can understand one thing. Your cyanide cylinder. (WITH EFFORT) Suppose I pull it out of your mouth!

SOUND:

HISS OF GAS

DRAKE:

Rose, hold your breath until I close the valve.

SOUND:

HISS OF GAS STOPS

DRAKE:

(EXHALES) There. (BEAT, TO THOLAN) All right, Tholan. You realize what'll happen to you, if you don't answer the questions I'm going to ask you. Cyanide lack. It would be a most uncomfortable death. I'm only an Earthman; I can't appreciate its true horrors, but you can, can't you?

ROSE:

(HORRIFIED, LOW) Drake, give him the cylinder. Give it back to him.

DRAKE:

You have about one hour, I think, until the effects are irreversible. Talk quickly, Dr. Tholan, and you'll have your cyanide cylinder back.

THOLAN:

(BEAT) What are your questions?

DRAKE:

What are your theories concerning the Inhibition Death? Why did you really come to Earth? What is your interest in the Missing Persons Bureau?

THOLAN:

For years, I have been investigating the cell structure of my patients suffering from Inhibition Death. I've been forced to use the utmost secrecy since the methods I used were frowned on by my people. Your society would have similar feelings against human vivisection, for instance. For this reason, I could not present the results I obtained to my fellow physicians until I had verified my theories here on Earth.

DRAKE:

And what are they?

THOLAN:

The Inhibition Death is entirely a disease of the mind.

ROSE:

You mean, it's psychosomatic?

THOLAN:

No, Mrs. Smollett, it is not psychosomatic. It is a true disease of the mind; a mental infection. My patients had double minds. Beyond and beneath the one that obviously belonged to them, there was evidence of another one -- an alien mind. In short, there are not only five intelligences in the Galaxy, but six! And the sixth is parasitic.

ROSE:

This is impossible. You must be mistaken, Dr. Tholan.

THOLAN:

I am not mistaken. One can imagine such a parasite, through the course of millions of years, perhaps, losing all portions of its physical being. It would become nothing but pure mind -- living, in some mental fashion we cannot conceive of, on the minds of others. Particularly on the minds of Earthmen.

ROSE:

Why particularly Earthmen?

THOLAN:

Have you not surmised that the sixth intelligence is a native of Earth? Mankind from the beginning has lived with it, has adapted to it, is unconscious of it. It is why the higher species of terrestrial animals, including man, do not grow after maturity and, eventually, die. And it is what is called natural death. It is the result of this universal parasitic infestation. Where Earthmen could survive the infection for decades with little harm, we others die a quick death within a year. Give me back my cylinder. You have your answer.

DRAKE:

What about the Missing Persons Bureau?

ROSE:

Drake, look at his eyes. Give it back to him.

THOLAN:

As we are not well adapted to the intelligence that infests man, neither is it well adapted to us. It can live on us, but it cannot reproduce with ourselves alone as the source of its life. The Inhibition Death is therefore not directly contagious among our people.

ROSE:

What are you implying, Dr. Tholan?

THOLAN:

The Earthman remains the prime host for the parasite. And an Earthman may infect one of us if he remains among us. But the parasite, once it is located in an intelligence of the outer worlds, must somehow return to an Earthman, if it expects to reproduce. We are infected and reinfected as the parasites return to Earth and come back to us via the mind of Earthmen who travel through space.

ROSE:

And the missing persons--?

THOLAN:

Are the intermediate hosts. The masculine terrestrial mind seems better suited for their purpose. But once reproduction has been taken care of, the infested male leaves, by spaceship, for the outer worlds. He disappears.

ROSE:

But this is impossible. What you say implies that the parasite mind can control the actions of its host! That can't be, or we would have noticed their presence here on Earth.

THOLAN:

The control may be very subtle. May, moreover, be exerted only during the period of active reproduction. I simply point to your Missing Persons Bureau. Why do the young men disappear? I'm quite ill now -- cyanide lack -- and I cannot speak much longer.

DRAKE:

And you alone, of all your people, have any knowledge of this theory of yours?

THOLAN:

I alone. You will give me back my cyanide cylinder now? I have become quite weak.

DRAKE:

Sure. Sure, Dr. Tholan.

SOUND:

THREE GUNSHOTS

ROSE:

(IN HORROR) Drake! Drake! (SCREAMS, CRIES BEHIND--)

DRAKE:

Rose! Rose, come out of here! Come on now! Come on!

ROSE:

(HYSTERICAL) He's dead! He's dead! You shot him!

DRAKE:

Outside! Out!

ROSE:

(WEEPS, CONTINUES IN BG)

DRAKE:

Quiet, Rose! Quiet!

SOUND:

DRAKE SLAPS ROSE

ROSE:

(PAUSE, HYSTERIA SLOWLY SUBSIDES BUT SHE CONTINUES TO SNIFFLE AND SOB IN BG)

DRAKE:

I told you to have nothing to do with this.

ROSE:

Let me go. I want to go away. I want to go away.

DRAKE:

Why? Because of something it was my job to do? You heard what that creature was saying. Do you suppose I could allow him to return to his world and spread those lies? They'd believe him! And what do you think would happen then? They would have to kill us all to stop the "disease."

ROSE:

What he said wasn't a lie. It was true.

DRAKE:

Oh, come on now, you're hysterical. You need sleep.

ROSE:

I know what he said was true because the Security Commission knows all about the same theory, and knows it's true!

DRAKE:

Why do you say a thing like that?

ROSE:

Because you let it slip yourself.

DRAKE:

Now, now, sit down. Sit down! (BEAT) Well, so I gave myself away, did I? When?

ROSE:

(COOLLY) You turned white when Harg Tholan referred to me as "a charming hostess." Hostess has a double meaning, Drake. A host is one who harbors a parasite.

DRAKE:

(SURPRISED, LOW) Well, I had no idea I was so transparent. (BEAT) Look, Rose, I've done my best to keep you out of this.

ROSE:

The truth can't be held down forever. Somebody else will find out. You can't kill them all.

DRAKE:

We know that, too. We have no choice.

ROSE:

Why? Why can't we combine with the other intelligences and wipe out the parasite?

DRAKE:

No, no. You - you don't understand. Harg Tholan was right. Man and his prehistoric ancestors have been living with this parasitic intelligence for uncounted ages. We've not only become adapted to it, we've become dependent on it. It is no longer a case of parasitism. It's a case of mutual cooperation. You biologists have a name for it.

ROSE:

What are you talking about? Symbiosis?

DRAKE:

Yes, exactly. We have a disease of our own, remember. It is the reverse disease; one of unrestrained growth. We've mentioned it already as a contrast to Inhibition Death. It's all very well to say that if we could remove the parasite, we would have eternal growth and life. But it's impossible for us. If for any reason the parasitic intelligence, as Harg Tholan calls it, does leave the human body, or if its relationship to the human mind is in any way impaired, growth does take place, but not in an orderly fashion. We call the growth cancer. And there you have it. There's no way of getting rid of the parasite. We're together for all eternity. To get rid of their Inhibition Death, extraterrestrials must first wipe out all vertebrate life on Earth. There is no other solution for them. So we must keep knowledge of it from them. Now do you understand?

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ROSE:

(NARRATES) He got the body out of the apartment. I sat there numbly. He lied to me. Cancer could not be a disease that was an expression of lost ability for normal growth. Cancer attacked children while they were still growing; it could even attack embryonic tissue. Cancer had nothing to do with the presence or absence of normal growth. Its absence would not cause cancer.

Drake lied.

But no one would believe me.

The young men who disappeared were usually in the first year of their marriage. Whatever the process of reproduction of the parasite intelligence was, it must involve close association with another parasite -- the type of close and continuous association as in the case of newly married couples.

The parasite could control actions.

I'd report them both, Drake Smollett and Harg Tholan, to the Missing Persons Bureau. But they'd never find them, for they'd be out in space.

I wanted to weep, but I couldn't. I was dry-eyed and it was painful.

I'd looked for the answers to so many questions and I'd found them all. I even found the answer to the question I thought had no bearing on the subject. [X]

(SLOWLY) I finally learned why Drake had married me.

ANNOUNCER:

(PAUSE) You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine which this month features "The Haunted Corpse" by Frederik Pohl, the story of an inventor named Horn whose invention lets us hold the world by the tail. Or is that our own tail? Galaxy Magazine, on your newsstand today.

MUSIC:

SNEAKS IN UNDER FOLLOWING--

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, by transcription, "X Minus One" has brought you "Hostess," a story from the pages of Galaxy written by Isaac Asimov and adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in the cast were Teri Keane as Rose, Les Damon as Drake, and Kermit Murdock as Dr. Tholan. This is Fred Collins. "X Minus One" was directed by Daniel Sutter and is an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

NBC ANNCR:

Hear the latest up-to-the-second news with Chet Huntley, weekday mornings on NBC Radio.

MUSIC:

NBC CHIMES ... THEN OUT