Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: X Minus One
Show: The Coffin Cure
Date: Nov 21 1957

CAST:

The NBC Team:
ANNOUNCER
2ND ANNCR (2 lines)
VOICES (1 line)
NBC ANNCR (1 line)

The Drama:
PHIL
COFFIN
JAKE
ELLIE
PUPPY, who whimpers and sneezes

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, "The Coffin Cure" by Alan Nourse. But, first, hear this!

The scene of America's first Thanksgiving celebration, the top Big Ten football game of the day, one of the most unusual excursions on which a radio audience has ever been taken. These are just a few highlights of the weekend "Monitor" has planned for you. To help set the mood for the coming Thanksgiving holiday, "Monitor" takes you on a visit to the banks of the James River at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia -- the scene of America's first Thanksgiving celebration more than three hundred years ago. For sports fans, "Monitor" takes you to Michigan Stadium at Ann Arbor for the big Michigan-Ohio State football game. And, for everybody, a most unusual listening experience as "Monitor" takes you behind the walls at Leavenworth Penitentiary. You'll learn of this famous prison's operation from Warden C. H. Looney, sit down to lunch with its inmates, learn from them how confinement behind prison walls affects a man, learn of their opportunities for rehabilitation. There'll be celebrities, music, news and sports -- all on "Monitor," all weekend long beginning Friday night over most of these NBC stations.

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Now, "X Minus One" and tonight's story -- "The Coffin Cure."

PHIL:

(NARRATES, ANNOYED) I saw the headlines on the way downtown in the morning -- "Common Cold Cured!" And, sure enough, there was his picture -- Chauncey Patrick Coffin. The newspaper ran on deliriously-- (READS HEADLINES)

COFFIN NAILS LID ON COMMON COLD!

"No More Coughin'" States Co-Finder of Cure!

SNIFFLES SNIPED -- SINGLE SHOT TO SAVE SNEEZERS!

There was no doubt of it. I've always said that the man who finds the cure of the common cold would be the greatest hero in medical history. And if I could have gotten my hands on Dr. Chauncey Patrick Coffin at that moment, I would have torn him limb from limb! (MATTER-OF-FACT) Almost did about a half an hour later at the laboratory. [X]

COFFIN:

Phillip, Phillip -- there's no sense in getting excited.

PHIL:

It's idiocy! Blind, screaming idiocy! Coffin, you're out of your mind! Can't you see what you've done?! It was my idea in the first place. And Jake and I have been pounding our heads on the wall for eight solid months, and you go sneak into publication a full year before we have any business--

COFFIN:

Now, now, Phillip, you--

PHIL:

Now, how 'bout that, Jake? Did you see the morning papers? This thief not only steals our work, he splashes it all over the countryside in red ink!

JAKE:

(CALM, TO COFFIN) Now, C. P., you shouldn't have done that.

PHIL:

Yeah!

JAKE:

After all, we've hardly had an acceptable period of clinical trial.

COFFIN:

Oh, nonsense. Phillip, you had the worst cold of your life when you took the vaccine. Have you had any since?

PHIL:

No, of course not.

COFFIN:

Jacob, how about you? Any sniffles? How about those six hundred students from the university? Did I misread the reports on them?

JAKE:

No. Ninety-eight per cent cured of active symptoms within twenty-four hours. But of course, it's only been a month.

COFFIN:

Now, gentlemen, be reasonable. Think positively! There's work to be done, a great deal of work. Press conference in twenty minutes. Drug houses to consult with. Gentlemen, we've won the greatest medical triumph of all time -- the conquering of the Common Cold. We'll go down in history!

MUSIC:

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

PHIL:

(NARRATES) He was right on that point, at least. We did go down in history. Of course, it was the biggest story of the year. In medical circles, it was called the Coffin Multicentric Upper Respiratory Virus-Inhibiting Vaccine. Newspapers just called it "The Coffin Cure."

The men from the government bureaus came first, and then seventeen pharmaceutical houses descended with production plans, cost-estimates, colorful graphs. One laboratory promised the vaccine in ten days; another guaranteed it in a week. The first actually appeared in three weeks and two days, to be soaked up in two hours by a thirsty sponge of cold-weary humanity. Express planes were dispatched to Europe, Asia, Africa, with the precious cargo, a million needles pierced a million hides, and with a huge, convulsive sneeze, mankind stepped forth into a new era.

There were abstainers, of course. There always are. One of them, for example, my wife, Ellie. [X]

ELLIE:

Dow, Phil, you cad talk all you wadt to. I dod't wadt eddy cold shots.

PHIL:

You've had this cold for two solid months now. There just isn't any sense to it.

ELLIE:

I dod't wadt eddy cold shots.

PHIL:

But why not? Just one little needle. Ya hardly feel it.

ELLIE:

You dow I dod't like deedles!

PHIL:

Oh, Ellie--

ELLIE:

Why dod't you leave be alode? Go take your dasty old deedles ad stick theb id people that wadt theb.

MUSIC:

FOR A NIGHT'S SLEEP ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

PHIL:

(NARRATES) I woke up once that night and listened to a parade of sneezes from Ellie. I rolled over and frowned to myself. It was ignominious, in a way -- the wife of one of the cold cure discoverers was refusing the fruit of all those months of work. When I woke up in the morning, I thought I was suffocating. [X] (COUGHS, GASPS, WHEEZES -- THEN PANICS AND CALLS) Hey, Ellie! Ellie! Ellie! I'm choking! Ellie! What did you do?!

SOUND:

DURING ABOVE, PHIL'S FOOTSTEPS HURRY TO THE BEDROOM DOOR WHICH OPENS ... FOOTSTEPS INTO HALL

PHIL:

Hey! Hey! What's burning?! Hey, Ellie?! Somebody's burning down the house!

ELLIE:

Oh, whadt are you talking about? It's just the toast. I burdt it.

PHIL:

Well, it's - it's awful! What's happened here?

ELLIE:

I'b baking breakfast.

PHIL:

But-- (SNIFFS) Don't you smell it?

ELLIE:

Of course not. It's just bacon and eggs and toast.

PHIL:

Ugh! You mean you don't smell anything strange?

ELLIE:

I dond't sbell eddythig, period, with this cold.

PHIL:

But, uh-- (SNIFFS) Say, did you put on fresh perfume this morning?

ELLIE:

Before breakfast? Dod't be ridiculous.

PHIL:

Not even a drop?

ELLIE:

Dot one drop.

PHIL:

This must all be in my mind. Or I'm imagining things, that's all. I'm working too hard. (SNIFFS, REALIZES) Heyyyy, wait a minute. Ellie! Give me my hat! I've got to get down to the laboratory -- quick!

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

You're listening to "The Coffin Cure," tonight's attraction on "X Minus One."

Eleven million victims, adults and children alike, beg you to break the grip of the crippler -- arthritis! Advances in medical science have made possible the cure of many diseases but further research is necessary to break this grip, to find the cause and the cure for man's oldest, most crippling disease. Let's give arthritics a chance. Help relieve their suffering now and help find the cure that will end this terrible disease for all time. Your contributions will support a double-barreled attack on arthritis, a fight in which more research and better treatment are brought to bear on one of the great menaces to our nation's health. Please join the campaign to destroy arthritis, to break the grip of the crippler. You can do your part. Please give to your local arthritis fund.

MUSIC:

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

ANNOUNCER:

Now, back to "X Minus One" and -- "The Coffin Cure."

PHIL:

(NARRATES) It grew worse all the way downtown. I fought down nausea as the smell of damp, rotting earth rose from my front yard. The neighbor's dog dashed out to meet me, exuding the great-grandfather of all dog odors. The crowded bus was a nightmare. I could tell that the bus driver had salami for supper the night before. My stomach began to roll and I barely made it off the bus. I met Jake Miles at the laboratory. [X]

JAKE:

Has Coffin come in yet?

PHIL:

Oh, he's in there. He's got the door locked.

JAKE:

You got it, too?

PHIL:

Yeah. (CALLS) Coffin?!

SOUND:

POUNDS ON DOOR ... BEAT ... DOOR UNLOCKS AND OPENS

COFFIN:

Now, don't come too close.

PHIL:

You've got it, too? When did it start for you?

COFFIN:

Right after supper last night. I thought I was going to suffocate. I got up and walked the streets all night. What a stink!

PHIL:

I got it sometime this morning.

COFFIN:

But I don't understand. Nobody else seems to notice anything.

PHIL:

You forget something. We were the first three to take the Coffin Cure, remember? You, and me and Jake. Two months ago.

COFFIN:

But what's happened? Those foul smells everywhere! Every odor in this town has suddenly turned foul!

JAKE:

Magnified, you mean. I don't think the smells have changed any.

COFFIN:

Well, but what is it, then?

JAKE:

Our noses have changed, obviously. Look at our experimental dogs. They never had colds -- and they practically live by their noses. Other animals -- all dependent on their sense of smell for survival -- they don't get colds, either. The multicentric virus hits primates only -- and it reaches the fullest power in man alone!

COFFIN:

But I - I don't get it. Why should it smell this way? I - I haven't had a cold in ages--

JAKE:

Of course not! That's just the point. Look, why do we have any sense of smell at all? Because we have tiny nerve endings in the mucous membranes of our noses and throats. But we've always had the virus living there. Cold or no cold, it's always been there -- except now, after the Coffin Cure! We got rid of the virus, remember? And now, for the first time, those nerve endings in our noses are just beginning to function.

COFFIN:

You mean you think it'll get worse?

JAKE:

And worse. And still worse!

COFFIN:

Now, we're all in this together, Phil. It was your idea in the first place--

PHIL:

(DRY) Uh huh.

COFFIN:

-- you said so yourself! You can't leave me now-- You can't! You can't!

SOUND:

PHONE BEGINS TO RING DURING ABOVE--

PHIL:

You better answer your phone.

SOUND:

PHONE RECEIVER UP

COFFIN:

Hello? ... Uh, I'm busy. And I - I can't see anyone. And I can't-- ... What? ... Oh.

SOUND:

RECEIVER DOWN

PHIL:

What is it?

COFFIN:

There's a line of students outside the building. They're waiting to see me. (PANICS) Oh, Jake, Phil. They'll hang me! You've got to help me!

PHIL:

Send down to the freezer and get all the live cold virus we can find. Get us some inoculated monkeys and a few dozen dogs.

COFFIN:

But you've got to help me! You've got to help me!

PHIL:

And stop sniveling. You're the big publicity man around here; you're going to handle the screaming masses, whether you like it or not. We've got to find out how to catch the common cold again if we have to die trying!

MUSIC:

FOR A FUTILE STRUGGLE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

PHIL:

(NARRATES) It was a futile struggle. We sprayed our throats with enough pure culture of virulent live cold virus to have condemned an ordinary man to a cold for life. We didn't develop a sniffle. We injected the virus hypodermically, intradermally, intramuscularly, intravenously. We drank it. We bathed in it. But we didn't catch a cold. We wore wet clothes and sopping shoes to work, but we never felt better in our lives. [X]

ELLIE:

I think you should all be locked up. Taking a cold shower and then going out in the snow.

PHIL:

You don't understand, Ellie. We've got to catch a cold.

ELLIE:

Why? Suppose you don't. What's going to happen?

PHIL:

We had three hundred students march on the laboratory today. The smells were driving them crazy. They couldn't even bear to be close to their best friends.

ELLIE:

Mm hm?

PHIL:

Tomorrow we'll have them back and three hundred more. And what's going to happen when fifteen million people find their noses suddenly turning on them? Ellie, we just did too good a job. We just can't catch cold. We just can't crack it. Those antibodies are just doing too good a job.

ELLIE:

Well, maybe you can find "uncle" bodies to take care of them.

PHIL:

Aw, now, look, don't make bad jokes--

ELLIE:

I'm not making jokes. I don't care what you do. All I want is a husband back who doesn't complain how everything smells, and who doesn't stand around in cold showers at six o'clock in the morning.

MUSIC:

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

PHIL:

(NARRATES) In the morning, Jake, Coffin and I had a conference in the lab. [X]

COFFIN:

... out there any more. I can't see those students. I've begged for time. I've promised them everything but my upper plate. I can't face them again, I just can't!

JAKE:

We only have a few days left. There were fifteen million antivirus shots given in the past three months, at least! Say, if we don't come up with something, we're goners.

PHIL:

You know what I think? I think we've been prize idiots. We've gotten so rattled, we haven't used our heads. And all the time it's been sitting there blinking at us!

JAKE:

What are you talking about?

PHIL:

Ellie said it this morning. "Uncle" bodies.

COFFIN:

(TO JAKE) Oh, he's cracked. He's snapped.

PHIL:

No, no, I'm dead serious. How many of those students do you think you can corral to help us?

COFFIN:

Six hundred.

PHIL:

Hmm.

COFFIN:

They're out there in the street right now, a blood-seeking mob, howling for a lynching.

PHIL:

All right, I want them in here. And I want some monkeys. Monkeys with colds, the worse ones the better.

JAKE:

Say, do you have any idea what you're doing?

PHIL:

Not in the least -- except that it's never been done before. But maybe it's time we tried following our noses for a while.

MUSIC:

TYMPANI ROLL ACCENT ... THEN DOOM-LADEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

PHIL:

(NARRATES) The tidal wave began to break two days later. Only a few people here, a dozen there, but we could tell it was coming. At the laboratory the doors were kept barred, telephones disconnected.

Jake rigged up some small gas masks but it didn't do much good. But the work went on in spite of the smells -- and you have no idea what a truckload of monkeys smells like magnified ten thousand times!

We had cold-ridden monkeys, sneezing, coughing, weeping, wheezing monkeys by the dozen. Culture trays bulged with tubes. Each day six hundred angry students -- holding their noses -- paraded through the lab, arms exposed.

At the end of the week, half the monkeys were cured of their colds and couldn't get them back; and the other half had new colds and couldn't get rid of them! That meant we were on the right track. And then two days later, Jake came into the laboratory triumphantly. [X]

PUPPY:

(WHIMPERS)

PHIL:

Jake! What's the idea of bringing that dog in here? I've got six nose plugs and they still don't do any good.

JAKE:

But look at that puppy! Look at it. Watch him carefully.

PUPPY:

(SNEEZES)

JAKE:

You hear? He sneezed! He's got a cold! That's the first dog in history that ever got a cold! And we've won!

MUSIC:

CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

PHIL:

(NARRATES) I was the first volunteer. We injected the new serum in my arm and sat back and waited. [X] (DISCOURAGED) We were still waiting three days later.

JAKE:

Well, it was a great idea. It just didn't work, that's all.

PHIL:

Where's Coffin?

JAKE:

He collapsed three days ago. He kept having anxiety dreams about hangings.

PHIL:

Well, I suppose we'd better just face it. Nice knowing you, Jake. Pity it had to end this way.

JAKE:

Well, it was a great try, old man. A great try.

PHIL:

Ah, yes. We will be remembered by an infuriated world, holding its nose in vain. Nothing like going down in a blaze of-- Ah - ah -

JAKE:

What's the matter?

PHIL:

-- in a blaze of-- Ah - ah - AH -- CHOO!

JAKE:

Phil! Say it again!

PHIL:

AH CHOO!

JAKE:

Oh! (LAUGHS) What a moment! Phil, we've won!

PHIL:

(THE BIGGEST SNEEZE OF ALL) AH CHOO!!!

MUSIC:

BIG ACCENT ... THEN OUT

ELLIE:

Now, just keep your feet in this warm bath, Phil, and drink plenty of hot lemon juice. You'll be all right.

PHIL:

(MISERABLE) You see, it was your idea. The "Uggle" bodies.

ELLIE:

Hm?

PHIL:

We developed ad adtibody agaidst the cold virus, and thed we had to develop ad adtibody agaidst the adtibody.

ELLIE:

Will they be able to make it fast enough?

PHIL:

Just aboudt fast edough for the people to get good ad eager to catch cold agaid.

ELLIE:

Mmm.

PHIL:

There's odly wud little hitch.

ELLIE:

Hitch?

PHIL:

This stuff we've bade does a real good job. Just a little too good. I bay be wrog, but I thik I've got this cold for keeps. Udless I cad fide ad adtibody agaidst the adtibody agaidst the adtibody-- (HUGE COMICAL SNEEZE) Ah - ah - AH -- CHOO!

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

Fred Collins again. And I'll have another word about "X Minus One" in a moment.

SOUND:

LOUD NASTY BUZZ ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

2ND ANNCR:

Is your head buzzing with the feverish, stuffed-up feeling of a cold?! Here's how to get relief! [X]

VOICES:

(CHANT) Every second / someone takes it / for the mis'ries / of a cold!

2ND ANNCR:

BROMO QUININE Brand Cold Tablets!

ANNOUNCER:

(BEAT) You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine which this month features "Galley Slave" by Isaac Asimov. The Three Laws of Positronic Robots made it impossible to kill a human, but there was a loophole -- murdering a man after his death! Read it in Galaxy Magazine, on your newsstand today.

MUSIC:

CLOSING THEME SNEAKS IN UNDER FOLLOWING--

ANNOUNCER:

"X Minus One" has brought you "The Coffin Cure," a story written by Alan Nourse and adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in our cast were Raymond Edward Johnson as Phil, Joseph Bell as Coffin, Harvey Hayes as Jacob, and Betty Kane as Ellie. Your announcer, Fred Collins. "X Minus One" was an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

NBC ANNCR:

There's excitement in the air at night and "Nightline" brings it to you. Hear "Nightline" with Walter O'Keefe, next on most of these NBC stations.

MUSIC:

NBC CHIMES