Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: X Minus One
Show: Something For Nothing
Date: Apr 10 1957

CAST:
ANNOUNCER
JOE
MOVER, working class accent
LEEK, middle class accent
FLIGN (PRONOUNCED "flin")
BUILDER, fussy
MICRO
TRANSFER, an old-timer
JANG, working class accent
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, "Something For Nothing" by Robert Sheckley.

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG

JOE:

(NARRATES) I woke up when I thought I heard a voice. But I must have been mistaken for there was no one in my room. There was the same network of cracks in the muddy yellow ceiling, and the same water dripping slowly and mournfully through from the roof. I'd seen it a hundred times before -- the worst room in a cheap hotel. But then, when I swung my feet onto the floor, I saw it!

MUSIC:

CHIME ... THEN IN BG

JOE:

(NARRATES) It was a machine on the floor. It hadn't been there when I went to sleep the night before. It was about three feet square, and it was humming softly. The crackle-gray surface was featureless, except for a red button in one corner and a brass plate in the center. I leaned in closer and read the marking. (READS) "Class-A Utilizer, Series A-A-one-two-five-six-four-three-two. Warning -- This machine should be used only by Class-A Ratings."

MUSIC:

CHIME ... THEN IN BG

JOE:

Hey, where did you come from? Utilizer, huh? What do you utilize? No switches, no knobs. Just one red button. Okay, we'll give it a try. Here goes the button.

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

All right, what happens now? Little green men drop from the ceiling? (BEAT) Okay, we'll push it again.

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Well, come on, do something. Guess I'll have to pawn it. Honest Charlie'll give me a dollar for the metal for junk. (GRUNTS WITH EFFORT) Boy, it's heavy. Can't even get the corner off the floor. They should have sent me somebody to help.

SOUND:

BUTTON

MUSIC:

CHIME ... THEN OUT

MOVER:

Where do you want it, mac?

JOE:

(STARTLED) Hey! Where did you come from?

MOVER:

Come on, come on, we haven't got all day. Where do you want it? Lucky it's one of the small ones. The big models are brutes to get a grip on.

JOE:

Who are you?

MOVER:

Moving man. What do I look like -- Queen of the May?

JOE:

But - but where did you come from? You just appeared in the room. What are you doing here?

MOVER:

I'm from the Powha Minnile Movers, Incorporated, and I came because you wanted movers, that's why. Now, where do you want it?

JOE:

Well, uh, I don't know, I - I'm not sure. Uh, look. You go away. I'll call for you later.

MOVER:

Okay, mac. It's your problem.

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS

JOE:

Utilizer, huh? Utilizer. Well, I don't know where you came from but I know what you are! You're a Wishing Machine!

MUSIC:

FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

JOE:

(NARRATES) I suppose most people would be shocked if a Wishing Machine suddenly showed up in their room. But not me. Most of my life has been spent wishing, hoping, praying that something marvelous would happen to me. In high school, I dreamed of waking up some morning with an ability to know my homework without having to do it. In the army, I used to wish for some witch to change my orders, put me in charge of the day room, instead of forcing me to do close-order drill like everyone else. Out of the army, I avoided work. You see, I'm kind of psychologically unsuited for it. I just drifted around, hoping some fabulously wealthy person would, for some reason, change their will and leave me everything! I never really expected anything to happen. But now it did. [X]

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

All right, machine, let's go. I'd like a thousand dollars in small unmarked bills!

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS

JOE:

There it is! How about that?! Fives, tens; they're all dirty -- just perfect! Okay, here's what I'll do. I'll get the machine out of New York -- maybe upstate some place where I won't be bothered by nosy neighbors. I got a lot of problems on the income tax with this sort of thing. Well, maybe I get organized and I'll go to Central America--

SOUND:

DEEP RUMBLING AS TEMPORAL WALL BEGINS TO CRUMBLE ... CONTINUES IN BG

JOE:

Hey. What's happening? There's a hole opening up in the wall. Wha--? (REALIZES) Somebody's trying to get through to me. The owner of the machine! He's tryin' to get it back! The hole's getting bigger. (PANICS) Hey-hey-hey, Utilizer!

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Protect me!

MUSIC:

CHIME

LEEK:

(CALM) Sanisa Leek, Temporal Wall Protection Service. What can I do for you?

JOE:

(FRANTIC) That man coming through the wall! Get rid of him! Get rid of him! He's almost through!

LEEK:

Oh, take it easy now. There's plenty of time. Let me see, where did I put that unit?

JOE:

There's his head!

FLIGN:

Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You don't understand! Now, wait--!

SOUND:

HIGH-PITCHED TONE

FLIGN:

(SCREAMS)

SOUND:

DEEP RUMBLE AND HIGH-PITCHED TONE OUT ... SILENCE

LEEK:

Well, that takes care of him. Anything else?

JOE:

(WORRIED) Did you kill him?

LEEK:

Of course not. I just veered him back through his glommatch. He won't try that way again.

JOE:

Well, you mean he'll try some other way?

LEEK:

It's possible. He could attempt a micro-transfer, or even animation. Say, uh, this is your Utilizer, isn't it?

JOE:

(NERVOUS) Of course. Sure it is. Of course.

LEEK:

Then you're an A-rating?

JOE:

(CAGEY) Naturally. Uh, if I wasn't, what would I be doing with a Utilizer?

LEEK:

Oh, no offense. Just being friendly. (CHUCKLES) Well, well. How you A's get around! I suppose you've come back here to do a history book.

JOE:

Well, uh, uh-- I'm really not permitted to say. Uh, you understand, don't you?

LEEK:

Oh, of course. I'll be on my way. (SADLY) One call after another. Night and day, night and day. I'd be better off in a quarry. (CHEERY) Bye.

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG

JOE:

(NARRATES) There I was, alone with the machine, with a thousand dollars in small bills scattered around the floor. Those A-ratings, whoever they were, had it pretty good. Want something? Just ask for it; press the button.

Well, the next few days marked a great change in my fortunes. With the aid of the Powha Minnile Movers I took the Utilizer to upstate New York. There, I bought a medium-sized mountain in a neglected corner of the Adirondacks. And once the papers were in my hands, I walked to the center of my property, several miles from the highway, with the men from the moving company, sweating behind me, carrying the Utilizer.

SOUND:

OUTDOOR BACKGROUND ... BIRDS CHIRP AND WHISTLE

JOE:

(NARRATES) On all sides, as far as I could see, were closely spaced forests of birch and pine. The air was sweet and damp. Birds were chirping merrily in the treetops; an occasional squirrel darted by. I always loved nature. This would be the perfect spot to build a large, impressive house with swimming pool, tennis courts and, possibly, a small airport. So I pushed the button.

SOUND:

BUTTON

MUSIC:

CHIME ... THEN OUT

BUILDER:

Yes, sir? Can I be of service?

JOE:

I want a house.

BUILDER:

Well, yes, sir, but you really must be more specific. Do you want something classic -- like a bungalow, ranch, split-level, mansion, castle or palace? Or primitive -- like an igloo or hut? Now, since you're an A, you could have something up-to-the-minute, like a semi face, an Extended New or a Sunken Miniature.

JOE:

Oh, uh, I don't know. What do you suggest?

BUILDER:

Er, small mansion. They usually start with that.

JOE:

They do?

BUILDER:

Oh, yes. Later, they move to a warm climate and build a palace. Shall we start immediately?

JOE:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure. Fine. Start immediately.

MUSIC:

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

JOE:

(NARRATES) I wanted to ask a couple of more questions, but I decided against it. Everything was going too smoothly. These people thought I was an A, and the true owner of the Utilizer. There wasn't any sense in disenchanting them. The rest of the day, I reclined on a couch and drank iced beverages while the Maxima Olph Construction Company materialized equipment and put up my house. [X]

BUILDER:

Well, there you are, sir. Modest, low-slung affair with twenty rooms, built only of the best materials, from a design of Mig of Degma, interior by Towige, a Mula swimming pool and formal gardens by Vierien. It's really the latest thing. With your permission, we'll include a complete layout on it in Galactic House and Gardens.

MUSIC:

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

JOE:

(NARRATES) By evening, it was completed, and the small army of workmen packed up their equipment and then vanished. I allowed my chef to prepare a light supper for me. And afterwards, I sat in my cool living-room to think the whole thing over. In front of me, humming gently, sat the Utilizer. I ordered cigars. [X]

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS ... UTILIZER HUMS IN BG

JOE:

(SNIFFS LOUDLY, PLEASED) Ah, Havana! (NARRATES, THOUGHTFUL) I wonder what's behind it all. Of course, it can't be supernatural. There are no demons or devils involved in this. My house was built by regular, ordinary human beings. They swore and laughed and cursed like human beings. The Utilizer was simply a scientific gadget, which worked on principles that I didn't understand. Or cared to understand. Could it have come from another planet? Not likely. They wouldn't have learned English just for me.

And so I decided that the Utilizer must have come from the Earth's future. But how? Well, accidents will happen. Why couldn't the Utilizer have just slipped back into the past? And ended up in my room? What a wonderful future it must be. Wishing machines! How marvelously civilized! All a person has
to do is think of something. Presto! And there it is.

Of course, I had to watch my step. There was still the owner, and the rest of the A's. They'd probably try to take the machine away from me.

SOUND:

UTILIZER QUIVERS AND HISSES, CONTINUES IN BG

JOE:

(NARRATES) A sudden movement caught my eye. I looked up. The Utilizer was quivering. As I walked towards it, a faint mist of steam came out of it. Must be overheating. Maybe a bucket of water-- And then I noticed it was becoming smaller. It was no more than two feet square and shrinking before my eyes. (REALIZES) The owner -- or perhaps the A's! -- are causing a micro-transfer that Leek had talked about. I had to do something quickly. I pushed the button.

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Leek Protection Service!

MUSIC:

CHIME

LEEK:

(MILDLY ANNOYED) Well, now, look here. I was on my way to the golf course. Must I be disturbed every time--?

JOE:

(FRANTIC) Do something! Look at it! It's shrinking! It's getting smaller! It's getting hot! Do something!

LEEK:

Well, there's nothing I can do. Temporal wall is all I'm licensed for. You want the microcontrol people. Bye.

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS

JOE:

Wait a minute! Come back! It's getting hot! It's getting smaller! (DESPERATE) I'll press the button again.

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Microcontrol!

MUSIC:

CHIME

MICRO:

With whom do you wish to make an appointment?

JOE:

Get me help -- fast! Look, the Utilizer, it's growing smaller! They're micro-transferring it!

MICRO:

Well, Mr. Vergon is out to lunch. He's de-zoned himself. I can't reach him.

JOE:

Well, who can you reach?

MICRO:

(CONSULTS NOTEBOOK) Well, Mr. Vis is in the Dieg Continuum, and Mr. Elgis is doing field work in Paleolithic Europe. If you're really in a rush, maybe Transferpoint Control. They're a smaller unit.

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS

JOE:

All right, all right, all right, Transferpoint Control. (IN PAIN) Owwww! Oooh! That button's hot. (WHIMPERS) I gotta push it. Gotta push that button.

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Transferpoint Control!

MUSIC:

CHIME

TRANSFER:

Well, what kin I do for ya? (INSTANTLY SIZES UP THE SITUATION) Uh huh. Just a minute. I'll take care of that.

SOUND:

EXPLOSION! UTILIZER STOPS HUMMING AND HISSING

TRANSFER:

Ah, there ya are. Got it just in time, didn't I? (CHUCKLES) We ain't fancy, but we're all reliable.

JOE:

My hand, my finger! It's burned. Can you do something?

TRANSFER:

Who, me? Nope. Not my department. "Do one thing, do it well," I always say. (CHEERY) Bye.

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS

JOE:

My finger! It's burned! Oh, I'll push the button again.

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Fix me up! Fix my finger!

SOUND:

UTILIZER HUMS WARMLY FOR A MOMENT

JOE: (RELIEVED) Ahhhhhh, that's better. Much better!

MUSIC:

BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG

JOE:

(NARRATES) The owner of the Utilizer didn't try anything for at least a week. But I found that my mansion in the woods had been the wrong thing to do. I had to hire a platoon of guards to keep away sightseers, and hunters insisted on camping in my formal gardens. Also, the Bureau of Internal Revenue began to take a lively interest in my affairs.

And so, with the aid of the Powha Minnile Movers, and the Maxima Olph Construction Company, and the Jangston Instantaneous Travel Bureau, and a good deal of money placed in the proper hands, I moved to a small Central American republic. And there, since the climate was warmer and the income tax nonexistent, I built a large, airy, ostentatious palace.

MUSIC:

CHANGES TO MIDDLE EASTERN THEME ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

JOE:

(NARRATES) It came equipped with the usual accessories -- horses, dogs, peacocks, servants, musicians, bevies of dancing girls and everything a palace should have. I spent two weeks just exploring the place.

One morning, I went up to the Utilizer, with the vague intention of asking for a sports car, or perhaps a small herd of pedigreed cattle. But as I bent over the gray machine and reached for the red button-- [X]

SOUND:

UTILIZER HUMS, CONTINUES IN BG

JOE:

Hey! Where are you going?! Hey, you can't move. You weigh a ton. Hold still so I can push the button.

SOUND:

UTILIZER TROTS AWAY ... JOE GIVES CHASE DURING FOLLOWING

JOE:

Hey, come back here! It's animation, that's what it is. Hey, come back here! I gotta push the button and get some kind of help. Hey, hey! Machine, stop! It's backin' into that corner; here we go. There we are. Careful. Can't let it get through the door. One side, a little dodge -- there!

SOUND:

BUTTON

JOE:

Animation Control!

SOUND:

SMALL EXPLOSION ... THEN SILENCE

JOE:

Wow. That was close. I can't take any more chances. I'd better do some big wishing now, while I still have the chance. All right, pay attention here, machine! I'll have - five million dollars, three functioning oil wells, a motion-picture studio, perfect health, twenty-five more dancing girls, uh, immortality, a sports car and a herd of pedigreed cattle.

SOUND:

MACHINE WORKS, SIMULTANEOUS WITH--

MUSIC:

RINGING CHIMES ... AFTER A MOMENT, BOTH MUSIC AND SOUND CUT OUT

JOE:

(BEAT) What is it? What happened? The Utilizer -- it's gone! Where is it?!

SOUND:

FOR TELEPORTATION

JOE:

(LOW, WORRIED) Wait a minute. What happened to me? I'm gone, too. Where am I?

FLIGN:

Oh, it's perfectly all right, sir. You can open your eyes now.

JOE:

Where am I? What happened? I was in my room and-- Where am I now? Where's the Utilizer?

FLIGN:

Oh, it's been returned to stock.

JOE:

(RECOGNIZES FLIGN) Wait a minute. You're the one that tried to come through the wall. You're the owner.

FLIGN:

Won't you have a chair?

JOE:

(RESIGNED) Well, I guess it's all over, isn't it? The A's finally caught me. Well, it was glorious while it lasted.

FLIGN:

Cigarette?

JOE:

No. Well, you got your machine back now. What else do you want?

FLIGN:

My machine? Why, it's not my machine, sir. Not at all.

JOE:

Aw, don't try to kid me, mister. You A-ratings want to protect your monopoly, don't you?

FLIGN:

My name is Flign. I'm an agent for the Citizens Protective Union, a non-profit organization, whose aim is to protect individuals such as yourself from errors of judgment.

JOE:

You mean, you're not one of the A's?

FLIGN:

Why, you're laboring under a misapprehension, sir. The A-rating does not represent a social group, as you seem to believe.

JOE: You mean, it's not an aristocracy? A hereditary--?

FLIGN:

Oh, goodness, no. An A-rating is merely a credit rating.

JOE:

A what?

FLIGN:

A credit rating. (BEAT) Well, now, you haven't got much time, so I'll make this as brief as possible here. You're quite correct, sir, that this is the future, as you put it. Ours is a decentralized age, sir. Our businesses, industries and services are scattered throughout an appreciable portion of space and time. Now, the Utilization Corporation that produces the Utilizer is an essential link. It provides for the transfer of goods and services from point to point. Do you understand?

JOE:

Oh, yeah, yeah. I get it, I get it.

FLIGN:

Well, credit, of course, is an automatic privilege. But, eventually-- Well, everything must be paid for.

JOE:

Paid for?! Hey, nobody said anything about paying! What are you talking about?!

FLIGN:

Well, now, of course, you certainly couldn't have expected to be provided with all these services without paying.

JOE:

Well, why didn't someone stop me? They must have known I didn't have a proper rating.

FLIGN:

Oh, credit ratings are suggestions, not laws. In a civilized world, an individual has the right to his own decisions. I'm very sorry, sir. Now, would you care to look at this bill and tell me whether it's in order?

JOE:

Bill?! What bill?!

FLIGN:

For all the services that you ordered from the Utilizer. Ah, here they are. There's -- let's see -- there's One Palace, with Accessories, credit four hundred and fifty million; Services of Maxima Olph Movers, hundred and eleven thousand credits; One hundred and twenty-two Dancing Girls, one million two hundred and twenty-two thousand; Perfect Health, eight million, eight hundred and eighty-two thousand, four hundred and twenty-two-- Well, there's a whole list of them here. The total comes to slightly less than eighteen billion credits.

JOE:

Hey, wait a minute! I can't be held to this! The Utilizer just dropped into my room by accident!

FLIGN:

Well, that's the very fact I'm going to bring to their attention.

JOE:

Well, what's gonna happen to me?

FLIGN:

Oh, it's already happened. You've been adjudged through bankruptcy court. (CHEERY) Good luck. Good bye.

SOUND:

FOR TELEPORTATION

JOE:

What--? Where am I? What happened? Where is this place?

JANG:

(BORED, BRUSQUE) All right, buddy, on your feet.

JOE:

Who - who are you?

JANG:

On your feet, mac. Here, take this.

JOE:

What is it?

JANG:

It's a pick. And over there is a quarry, where you and I and a number of others are gonna cut marble.

JOE:

Marble?

JANG:

Sure. There's always some idiot who wants a palace. You better get workin', now, boy or they'll hand ya a touch of that electronic whip.

JOE:

What do you mean?

JANG:

You'll find out. You can call me Jang. We'll be together for some time.

JOE:

How long?

JANG:

You work it out. The rate is fifty credits a month until your debt is paid off.

JOE:

They can't do this to me! It's all a mistake! It was their fault they left the machine. They let it slip into the past. It's all a mistake!

JANG:

It's no mistake. They're short of labor. They don't wanna go recruitin' all over for it. Come on. After the first thousand years, you won't mind it.

JOE:

The first thousand years? I won't live that long!

JANG:

Sure ya will. Ya got immortality, didn't you?

JOE:

(REALIZES) Ohhhh. That's right. That's right. I wished for it, just before they took back the machine.

JANG: Sure ya did.

JOE:

Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute! That bill that Flign showed me -- I didn't see immortality on that bill! How much did they charge me for immortality?

JANG:

Aw, don't be na´ve, pal. You should have it figured out by now. Naturally, they give that away for nothing! Now, grab your pick, let's go.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine which this month features "Founding Father" by Clifford D. Simak, the story of a man whose job was to be first in the hearts of his countrymen -- if he ever managed to find them. Galaxy Magazine, on your newsstand today.

MUSIC:

SNEAKS IN UNDER FOLLOWING--

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, "X Minus One" has brought you "Something For Nothing," a story from the pages of Galaxy written by Robert Sheckley and adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in our cast were Joseph Julian as Joe, with Danny Ocko, Jock MacGregor, John Gibson, Wendell Holmes, Ralph Bell, and Karen Ford. Fred Collins speaking. "X Minus One" was directed by Daniel Sutter and is an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

NBC ANNCR:

Scanning the globe, ever-watchful, the NBC Radio news department maintains a twenty-four hour vigil on the world. From the U.N., from Washington, from the Middle East, NBC Radio newsmen are on the beam, reporting the news from where it happens, as it happens. Every minute of the day, news streams into the NBC newsroom, is sifted and evaluated. Every sixty minutes the most important stories are broadcast to you by top commentators, like Chet Huntley, David Brinkley and Alex Drier, on "News on the Hour." And when the hot stories break, you get them in a flash on "Hotline." It's like having a seat in the NBC Radio newsroom. Listen for "News on the Hour" and the exclusive "Hotline" service, all day, every day, on most of these stations.

MUSIC:

NBC CHIMES ... THEN OUT