Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: The Hermit's Cave
Show: The Blackness of Terror
Date: Date Unknown

CAST:
ANNOUNCER
THE HERMIT
MARLINE (pronounced MAR LEEN)
PAUL WILDE
PAPA
MOTHER
MRS. ETON
DR. LAURIE

ANNOUNCER:

The Mummers in "The Little Theater of The Air."

MUSIC:

THEME ... FADES OUT

SOUND:

A DOG HOWLS ... WIND BLOWS, THEN CONTINUES IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

Now, the Hermit.

SOUND:

SEVERAL DOGS HOWL

HERMIT:

(CACKLING LAUGHTER) Ghoooossst stories. Weirrrrrd stories. And murders, too! (CACKLES) The Hermit knows of them all. Turn out your lights. Turn them out! Ahhhh. Have you heard the story -- "The Blackness of Terror" -- hm? Then listen while the Hermit tells you the story. (CACKLES)

MUSIC:

FOR A ROMANTIC, FAIRY TALE-LIKE INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) It was one week ago today that Paul and I received the telegram about Papa. And since that hour, my life, my thoughts, my feelings have been deeply altered. I have learned the results of the blackness of terror, the hideousness of sin, and the horror of madness. On Wednesday last, about ten P. M., a telegram was delivered to me. (TO PAUL) Who on earth can be sending me a wire?

PAUL:

(UNHAPPY) Who else but your father?

MARLINE:

But Papa always calls.

PAUL:

Well, before you open it-- We're not going to Blue Acres this weekend. We haven't had one weekend to ourselves since we were married.

SOUND:

ENVELOPE TORN OPEN AND TELEGRAM UNFOLDED

MARLINE:

(EXHALES) Oh, Paul, it is Papa.

PAUL:

I knew it.

MARLINE:

No, you don't understand. Here.

SOUND:

TELEGRAM HANDED OVER

PAUL:

(READS) "Your father seriously ill. Suggest you come at once. Dr. Laurie."

MARLINE:

(SHAKEN) Papa-- Papa--

PAUL:

Oh, now, take it easy, Marline.

MARLINE:

He's never been ill a day in his life.

PAUL:

Your father's getting along in years, darling. You can't expect him not to have some bad days.

MARLINE:

But Dr. Laurie said "seriously ill," and he's usually terribly conservative. We must start at once!

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Oh, please understand me. I love my husband Paul very much. But, up until the time I married, I had never left my father's side. We'd been inseparable -- ever since that dreadful morning when, as a little girl of eight years, my papa had taken me on his lap and, after kissing me tenderly and brushing the curls back from my forehead, he had said--

PAPA:

Little doll, your papa has something very sad to tell you. But you must be very brave, my darling. Your mother has --- left us. She has written this note to inform us--

MUSIC:

BITTERSWEET ... BEHIND MOTHER--

MOTHER:

To Terence and Marline. Life here at Blue Acres has grown intolerable for me. You're a little child, Marline, and therefore I cannot explain some things to you. But Terence will know why I'm leaving. My little girl, try to think kindly of your mother. I would take you with me if I could, but that isn't possible just now. Your father is a wealthy man and he can give you fine things. I know at Blue Acres you will grow up to be a lady of whom I shall always be proud -- and a daughter whom I will love forever.

MARLINE:

(WEEPS)

PAPA:

Do not cry, my little doll. Had your mother loved you, she would never have left you. From this day forward, there'll be no mention of her name in this house. To us, she is dead.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) It was some years later that I learned that my beautiful mother had left Papa and me and had run away with Philip Court, a chap the townspeople said was a worthless dauber in paints. Nothing was ever heard of my mother or him after they left Blue Acres. Nor did my father, Terence Laine, ever mention her name. He devoted his life to me. I had private tutors that came to Blue Acres to instruct me, the very best. Papa imported a master of the piano to teach me. We remained aloof from the world. The only woman in the household beside myself was Mrs. Eton. Father always did the cleaning of the house -- for Blue Acres is filled with priceless treasures -- and when I would laugh at him dusting, he would always remark--

PAPA:

Can't let her clumsy fingers touch this vase. It's worth a thousand dollars if it's worth a penny.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION, OUT AT [X]--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) The years moved on, and I lived in a world of my father's creating -- until this last summer when I was twenty-one years old. One glorious summer night when the moon made golden patterns on the terraced lawns of Blue Acres -- and the waters of the colored fountains, centered in the grounds, shot a million rainbow lights into the night -- when the French doors of the music room were opened wide to let the cool night air enter [X] -- I sat at the piano, playing the works of one of my favorite composers, Debussy.

MUSIC:

SOLO PIANO ... MELANCHOLY DEBUSSY ... THEN IN BG--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Papa was not fond of Debussy and as soon as I began playing, he got up from his chair and went to his study. But the haunting melancholy of Debussy suited me. It was a background to my dreaming -- and the somehow lonely feeling of my heart that was growing stronger as the years wore on, with only Papa for my companion. I went on playing.

MUSIC:

PIANO UP TO FILL A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) And then suddenly I was aware of the presence of another in the room. I felt it strongly even before I turned around.

MUSIC:

PIANO OUT

PAUL:

Oh, please go on. It's beautiful. Suited to a night like this. Please.

MARLINE:

I'm sorry, but I--

PAUL:

Oh, don't be sorry. I'm the one who owes you an apology for my intrusion. I'm Paul Wilde. I'm spending my vacation at the Truesdales who live down the road a ways.

MARLINE:

Oh, yes.

PAUL:

They told me there was a princess living at Blue Acres. But they didn't do you justice, young lady. No princess was ever quite so fair or lovely as you.

MARLINE:

(WEAK PROTEST) Please, Mr. Wilde--

PAUL:

The Truesdales also added that a dragon named Terence Laine guards the Princess Marline with his life.

MARLINE:

That was very unjust.

PAUL:

Really? Well, then if you're not zealously guarded, how 'bout taking a stroll with me? The night is wonderful. And if you're good, I'll reach up and pick you a necklace of stars to wear.

MARLINE:

I'm sorry, Mr. Wilde--

PAUL:

You won't go?

MARLINE:

It's late.

PAUL:

And Papa would object?

MARLINE:

No.

PAUL:

Well then, with your kind permission, I'll call tomorrow afternoon to gain his consent for a date tomorrow night. (BEAT) Do I have your permission?

MARLINE:

Well-- Yes.

PAUL:

Fine. Then, do something for me now, will you?

MARLINE:

If I can.

PAUL:

Play something for me as I walk away. Shall we have something light and joyous this time? Something more in tune with the happiness in store for you and me? I'll be listening -- for our theme song.

MUSIC:

PIANO ... LIGHT AND JOYOUS ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Paul -- Paul Wilde. Only those deeply in love can understand what I mean when I say it was adoration on sight. I knew that, from that second until eternity, there would be none other for me than Paul. And, true to his word, he was at Blue Acres the next afternoon, asking father's consent for an evening with me. I didn't hear their conversation. But I did hear from Papa later.

PAPA:

My dear, I'm an old man -- wise in the ways of the world. I've spent my entire life protecting you from the vulgar of this world, the worthless. Had I protected your mother more carefully, there never would have been the scandal in this house caused by her treacherous act--

MARLINE:

But, Papa--

PAPA:

I have already called into the city. This Paul Wilde is nothing but a simple clerk with poor wages.

MARLINE:

Is there never to be anyone for me?

PAPA:

Of course. When the time comes. But this is not the time.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) I had never disobeyed my father. But I did so that night. I sent Paul a note and we met at midnight in the gardens of Blue Acres.

MUSIC:

UP FOR A ROMANTIC ACCENT ... THEN OUT

PAUL:

(LOVINGLY) My Marline.

MARLINE:

Say it again, Paul. It sounds so wonderful. I've never had anyone but Papa speak my name with love.

PAUL:

My Marline. I have a lifetime of love to give you -- a heart bursting with love for you. Do you love me, my darling?

MARLINE:

Oh, yes, Paul.

PAUL:

Say it.

MUSIC:

SNEAKS IN ... ROMANTIC TURNING TENSE DURING FOLLOWING--

MARLINE:

I love you. Oh, I love you.

PAUL:

And now say this -- "I love you enough to leave Blue Acres and marry you, Paul."

MARLINE:

I love you enough to leave-- (FALTERS) Oh, Paul, I - I can't! I can't do that to Papa.

PAUL:

Must you give up your life to him?

MARLINE:

No, but to leave him as mother did--

PAUL:

Then we'll let me go out of your life?

MARLINE:

No. No!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) There were other surreptitious meetings. There were arguments, persuasions, protestations. But, in the end, love won out. Paul and I ran away and were married. I will never forget the following day when Paul and I returned to face father.

PAPA:

What is done cannot be undone.

MARLINE:

(RELIEVED) Papa! You forgive me!

PAPA:

Yes, I forgive you.

MARLINE:

Oh, Papa! Paul, isn't he wonderful?

PAPA:

You are the love of my life. And if Paul realizes this, he will not keep you absent from me for any long periods of time.

MARLINE:

Of course not, Papa. Blue Acres will continue to be our home.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) But I hadn't reckoned with Paul when I made this statement. He would not quit work and live at Blue Acres -- off Papa's "bounty," as he called it. So, for the time being, we'd been spending weekends at Blue Acres. At this moment, I felt a little resentful that Paul had taken me away from Papa. We arrived at Blue Acres and Mrs. Eton opened the door to us, just as dawn was breaking over Blue Acres.

SOUND:

FRONT DOOR OPENS ... THEN CLOSES DURING FOLLOWING--

MRS. ETON:

Oh, at last you've arrived. Come in.

MARLINE:

Papa--?

MRS. ETON:

Your father's a very sick man.

PAUL:

What is it, Mrs. Eton?

MRS. ETON:

I think, Miss Marline, you should let Dr. Laurie explain.

PAUL:

Oh, here. I'll take the luggage upstairs.

SOUND:

PAUL'S FOOTSTEPS AWAY

MARLINE:

I'll go to father.

MRS. ETON:

You'll find him in his study. Doctor had a bed set up in there where it's easier for me to care for him. Besides, he seems more content there.

MARLINE:

Hasn't Dr. Laurie gotten a nurse for Papa?

MRS. ETON:

We tried it, but he wouldn't have one. We'd better knock on the door. Doctor's in there with him now.

SOUND:

KNOCK ON STUDY DOOR

DR. LAURIE:

(BEHIND DOOR) Come in.

SOUND:

STUDY DOOR OPENS ... MARLINE'S FOOTSTEPS IN

MARLINE:

Papa! (NARRATES) I ran across the room to my father's bed. I looked down at him, and then in dismay at Dr. Laurie, for my father's face was a horrible sight -- twisted and pulled out of shape. And his eyes. His burning eyes. They were staring at me wildly. I reached out for his hand, cried out to him. (TO PAPA, WORRIED) Papa!

PAPA:

(TRIES TO SPEAK; GUTTURAL INCOMPREHENSIBLE CROAKING; CONTINUES IN BG)

MARLINE:

What is it, Dr. Laurie?

DR. LAURIE:

Stroke.

PAPA:

(MORE GUTTURAL CROAKING, THEN FALLS SILENT)

MARLINE:

Oh, Papa, don't worry. Dr. Laurie will get you well again. (LOW, TO DR. LAURIE) Can he hear my voice?

DR. LAURIE:

I'm not quite sure this morning, but I think so. He does know who you are. Er, come outside with me, Marline, I want to talk to you.

MARLINE:

I'm going in the drawing room, Papa, to talk to Dr. Laurie. I'll be right back. And then I won't leave. I won't leave until you're well again.

SOUND:

MARLINE AND DR. LAURIE'S FOOTSTEPS OUT OF ROOM ... STUDY DOOR CLOSES ... THEIR FOOTSTEPS IN AGREEMENT WITH--

MARLINE:

Come in the drawing room, Doctor. I should never have left him.

DR. LAURIE:

Fiddlesticks. You did the right thing.

MARLINE:

But my marriage has brought this on. He loved me so, and I love him. He's been lost with me gone.

DR. LAURIE:

Marline, I, um--

MARLINE:

Dr. Laurie, his eyes--?

DR. LAURIE:

Yes, my dear. I was just about to talk to you of this.

MARLINE:

What is it?

DR. LAURIE:

I wish I knew. Your father is suffering from some terrible fear that I'm inclined to think is nothing to do with his fear of dying.

MARLINE:

Has he said anything about it?

DR. LAURIE:

He can't speak. Only the guttural sounds you heard. He can't write, he can't lift his hands.

MARLINE:

Oh, how dreadful.

DR. LAURIE:

What that fear is, I don't know. I've watched with him nights and it appears that whatever causes his wild fear is worse then.

MARLINE:

Poor Papa.

DR. LAURIE:

As soon as office hours are over this evening, I'll drive out here to Blue Acres. Perhaps between the two of us, we'll be able to discover what causes his distress and be able to help him.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) It filled my heart with sorrow to see my father suffering such pain and discomfort. And the look in his eyes -- the mad, wild look -- was almost more than I could bear. At last, night came. I rejoiced when I heard Mrs. Eton usher Dr. Laurie in. He and I sat by father's bed while the heavy minutes ticked past.

MUSIC:

EERILY FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) There seemed to be no change in his condition, but as night wore on and it was fast reaching midnight, there was a change in his eyes. The fear in them was so marked that I trembled from it. Dr. Laurie said--

DR. LAURIE:

Do you see? His eyes.

MARLINE:

Yes!

DR. LAURIE:

It's as if he sees something we don't see.

MARLINE:

Yes! (NARRATES) It was so. His eyes seemed to be riveted on the door to his study. And it was then that I thought I heard a low moan.

MUSIC:

FADES OUT WITH--

MOTHER:

(LONG LOW MOAN BEGINS)

MARLINE:

(UNNERVED) What was that?!

MOTHER:

(LOW MOAN REACHES A PEAK, THEN TRAILS OFF)

DR. LAURIE:

I - don't know.

MARLINE:

It didn't come from father.

DR. LAURIE:

No. But look at him now.

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Now father's eyes were trained in closer to his bed.

PAPA:

(TRIES TO SPEAK, TENSE)

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) He was struggling, attempting to lift his hands.

PAPA:

(TRIES TO SPEAK, TERRIFIED, CONTINUES IN BG)

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) It was very plain to me and I cried out-- (TO DR. LAURIE) Doctor! There's some unseen thing standing over Papa's bed!

DR. LAURIE:

That is the way I diagnose it.

MARLINE:

There is!

DR. LAURIE:

Something unseen to us, but clearly seen by your father.

PAPA:

(GURGLING AND GASPING IN TERROR)

MARLINE:

And look! The bedclothes are moving! But he's not touching them! What is it?! Dr. Laurie, what is it?!

MUSIC:

BIG CURTAIN

SOUND:

WIND BLOWS AND DOGS HOWL ... AND WE ARE BACK WITH THE HERMIT

HERMIT:

(CACKLING LAUGHTER FADES IN) An unseen spirit, eh? Witnessed only by the dying. What does Terence Laine see, hm? What causes him to fear so mightily? The Hermit will tell you before the night is done! (CACKLES)

[COMMERCIAL BREAK]

SOUND:

WIND BLOWS ... DOGS HOWL ... IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

Now, the Hermit will continue.

HERMIT:

(BEAT, CACKLING LAUGHTER) Only a few minutes have passed. But Marline, in her anxiety to aid her father in his terrible fear, only makes matters more difficult. Now it appears that the dying man wishes his beloved daughter out of the room, too.

SOUND:

FADES OUT BRIEFLY FOR--

PAPA:

(STRUGGLES TO SPEAK, URGENTLY, NOT IN FEAR)

SOUND:

FADE BACK IN ... WIND BLOWS ... DOGS HOWL ... IN BG

HERMIT:

And so, Paul, the husband of Marline -- with his arms about her -- leads her from the room, guides her into the music room where she sinks into a chair, sobbing softly. Listen. (CACKLES)

SOUND:

FADES OUT

PAUL:

Darling, if you get overwrought, ill, you won't be able to help your father.

MARLINE:

Oh, Paul, it - it's so dreadful. I tell you, Papa sees things there in his room. Some vision that frightens him. I saw the bedclothes move and Papa wasn't touching them.

PAUL:

Please, dear, try to control your nerves. Shall I have Mrs. Eton make you some tea? It'll help soothe you. I'll be right back, darling. (MOVING OFF) Only take a second.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Paul went into the kitchen. I sat, trying to get ahold of myself. It was only a few minutes after he'd left the room. Once again I was aware of the same sound I had heard in father's room -- the sound that had made his eyes turn mad with terror.

MOTHER:

(LONG LOW MOAN)

MUSIC:

BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Was I, too, losing my mind? What was the answer to this strange phenomenon -- a sound that, to my ears, was exactly like that of a woman moaning? At first, it was close to me in the music room. And then it grew fainter, but still distinct. And, though it's difficult to believe, there was a second when I felt as if something had brushed past my chair, had touched my shoulder. I cried out for Paul. (CALLS) Paul?! Paul?!

PAUL: (OFF) What is it? (APPROACHES) I'm right here.

MARLINE:

Paul, listen. Do you hear a strange sound?

PAUL:

What sort of a sound?

MARLINE:

A sound like a woman moaning.

PAUL:

No.

MARLINE:

I heard it distinctly. You listen.

PAUL:

Here, you drink this tea and forget about such things.

MARLINE:

Please, Paul -- quiet!

MOTHER:

(LONG LOW MOAN)

MARLINE:

Now! Do you hear?

PAUL:

By George--

MARLINE:

You do hear it.

PAUL:

Some unusual sound.

MARLINE:

Where is it coming from?

PAUL:

I don't know.

MOTHER:

(LONG LOW MOAN)

MARLINE:

(SHUDDERS) There it is again.

PAUL:

Yeah. Sort of seems to be coming from these walls of the music room--

MARLINE:

That's it.

PAUL:

Or from out on the terrace.

MARLINE:

Oh, it's nearer than that.

MOTHER:

(LONG LOW MOAN)

PAUL:

Here. In this wall behind the piano.

MARLINE:

Yes.

PAUL:

(STRAINS WITH EFFORT)

MARLINE:

Why are you feeling the walls?

PAUL:

This panel here. Look.

SOUND:

CLICK! RATTLE! AS PANEL ROLLS SLOWLY OPEN BEHIND--

MARLINE:

Why, it's a panel that opens. I've lived here all my life and I never knew of it before.

SOUND:

PANEL STOPS WITH A THUMP

PAUL:

An inner room in here!

MOTHER:

(LONG MOAN, NOT AS LOW AS BEFORE)

MARLINE:

And you can hear the moaning from here much closer.

PAUL:

Marline, get the candle from the piano. I'm going to look around in here.

MARLINE:

Yes. (BEAT) Here, Paul.

SOUND:

MATCH STRIKES, CANDLE IS LIT ... ECHO ON VOICES DURING FOLLOWING--

PAUL:

Yeah, this passage in here must lead to another room in the house.

MARLINE:

I'm coming with you.

PAUL:

And the moaning we heard was from someone in the adjoining room from here.

MOTHER:

(LONG MOAN)

MARLINE:

Paul, wait. Here, look.

PAUL:

What is it?

MARLINE:

This enormous chest. Listen.

MOTHER:

(LONG MOAN, VERY CLOSE NOW)

MARLINE:

Quick! There's someone inside this chest!

PAUL:

I believe you're right.

MARLINE:

Hurry! They'll smother to death!

PAUL:

(GRUNTS WITH EFFORT BEHIND--)

SOUND:

HEAVY RATTLE OF LOCKED CHEST

PAUL:

It's locked!

MARLINE:

Locked?! Someone's been pushed into this chest; then it's been locked against them! Hurry! Can't you break it open?

PAUL:

I'm gonna try.

SOUND:

A SERIES OF HEAVY BLOWS AGAINST CHEST AS--

PAUL:

(GRUNTS WITH EFFORT; THEN--) The lock is giving now! (MORE GRUNTS)

SOUND:

FINAL BLOWS ... LOCK BREAKS ... CHEST LID CREAKS EERILY OPEN

MARLINE:

(BEAT, INHALES IN HORROR, FOLLOWED BY BLOODCURDLING SCREAM)

MUSIC:

BIG BRIDGE

DR. LAURIE:

Not one skeleton, Paul -- two.

PAUL:

Two?

DR. LAURIE:

I'm going to take this chest into Terence Laine's room. When I question him and show him what we've found in his secret hiding place, no doubt we'll have the answer to our tragedy. And our riddle.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) When confronted with the chest and the skeletons of human beings found in it -- when asked questions by Dr. Laurie that Papa could answer by a nod of his head -- we found the solution to the mystery of Blue Acres.

Yes, the skeletons were those of Philip Court and my mother. My father had killed them before they ever got away from the house, the night mother intended to leave. Dr. Laurie filled in many blank spaces in the life of my mother and father.

DR. LAURIE:

Your father was an insanely jealous man, Marline. He would allow her no friends. He even went to the city alone and bought her gowns for her. He would allow no one to look upon her. He hated me because I attended her at your birth.

MARLINE:

(DISMAYED) Oh--

DR. LAURIE:

I was surprised when he allowed you to get away from him and marry Paul. But I've figured that out now.

PAUL:

What do you mean, Doctor?

DR. LAURIE:

I found a large quantity of arsenic in his desk.

PAUL:

Great heaven--

DR. LAURIE:

I'm sure it was his intention to do away with you, Paul. Then, once again, he could have Marline to himself.

MARLINE:

(SAD) Take me away, Paul.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARLINE:

(NARRATES) Paul and I left Blue Acres next morning. Terence Laine, my father, is still living. Mrs. Eton cares for him. I haven't been out since that horrible night when the moaning of my mother's spirit led me to her grave. But we will go out this weekend if he's still living. Paul says I can never be happy unless I forgive him. Besides, the eyes of my father show madness in the evening after darkness gathers. And so we know he is tortured enough. Each night, he must see the spirit of my mother standing over his bed, accusing him of his crime of double murder.

MUSIC:

UP, FOR A WILD, MAD CURTAIN

SOUND:

DOG HOWLS MOURNFULLY, LOUD AND LONG

MUSIC:

ACCENT

SOUND:

WIND BLOWS AND DOGS HOWL ... AND WE ARE BACK WITH THE HERMIT

HERMIT:

(CACKLING LAUGHTER) Yes! Terence Laine lies suffering for his guilt, unable to speak to those who stand beside him. And, in the nighttime, a vision of a woman appears before him -- the vision of one whom he murdered because of his insane jealousy. Yes, Terence Laine has learned, during these last hours, the blackness -- the awful blackness -- of terror. Turn on your lights. Turn them on! (CACKLES) I'll be back. Pleasant dreams! (CACKLES)

SOUND:

WIND AND DOGS FADE FOR--

MUSIC:

THEME ... TILL END

ANNOUNCER:

All characters, places and occurrences mentioned in "The Hermit's Cave" are fictitious and similarity to persons, places or occurrences is purely accidental.