Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Escape
Show: Leiningen vs the Ants (version 2)
Date: Aug 04 1949

ANNOUNCER:

"Suspense," which is usually heard at this hour on Thursday nights, is taking its customary summer holiday. "Suspense" returns to the air four weeks from tonight on Thursday, September 1st.

Theme MUSIC in and out.

2ND ANNOUNCER:

You are isolated on a remote plantation in the crawling Amazon jungle and an immense army of ravenous ants is closing in on you, swarming in to eat you alive. A deadly black army from which there is no... escape!

MUSIC in and out:

"Night on Bald Mountain"

ANNOUNCER:

We offer you "Escape" -- designed to free you from the four walls of today for a half-hour of high adventure.

Theme MUSIC in.

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, we escape to the Amazon jungle and to a creeping, crawling terror as Carl Stephenson told it in his famous story, "Leiningen versus the Ants."

MUSIC in and under.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

I first met Leiningen while performing my duties as district commissioner. As my boat neared his plantation landing, I saw him upon the river-bank, regarding me with mild interest. A great hulk of a man with bristling grey hair, bulky nose, and pale eyes. His entire appearance somehow suggested an aging and shabby eagle. He escorted me to the terrace and had a drink brought. I came quickly to the point of my visit and issued my warning. Leiningen puffed placidly at a huge cigar as he listened and then said:

MUSIC out. Jungle NOISES.

LEININGEN:

Exactly what are you trying to tell me?

COMMISSIONER:

I'm trying to tell you that, unless they alter their course -- and there's no reason why they should -- they'll reach your plantation in two days at the latest.

LEININGEN:

Well, Commissioner, it was decent of you, paddling all this way just to give me the tip.

COMMISSIONER:

Tip?!

LEININGEN:

You're pulling my leg of course when you say I've got to get out.

COMMISSIONER:

Now, look, I assure you, I'm not--

LEININGEN:

Commissioner, even a herd of crocodiles couldn't drive me from this plantation of mine.

COMMISSIONER:

Ah, you don't understand. These aren't creatures you can fight -- they're an elemental force, a gigantic catastrophe! Ten miles long, two miles wide -- ants, nothing but ants! And each one as big as your thumb. And each of them a fiend from hell. Unless you clear out at once there'll he nothing left of you but a skeleton, picked as clean as your own plantation will be.

LEININGEN:

I'm not going to run for it, Commissioner, just because trouble's on the way.

COMMISSIONER:

But it isn't trouble, it's--

LEININGEN:

And don't think I'm the kind of fathead who tries to beat off lightning with my fists either. I've got a better weapon, Commissioner: intelligence. With me, the brain isn't just a second appendix; I know what it's there for.

COMMISSIONER:

Can't I make you understand the hideous--?

LEININGEN:

I think it is you who does not understand. In the three years I've been here, I've met and defeated more than one catastrophe: flood and droughts, a plague -- events which caused many of my natives to flee for their lives. No, Commissioner, all my life, I've lived by one motto: The human brain needs only to become fully aware of its powers to conquer even the elements.

COMMISSIONER:

Leiningen, your obstinacy is endangering not only your own life but the lives of your four hundred workers and their families. You don't know these ants! I tell you, you don't know these ants!

MUSIC in and under.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

But Leiningen merely sat there, puffing at his cigar and regarding me with a sardonic grin. I knew it was hopeless. As I boarded my launch and cast off, I turned to look once more at this man who calmly intended to defy one of the world's greatest scourges. I felt a sudden resentment toward him and yet, with it was something else. I had never met a man like that. I couldn't help wondering what combination of elements made up such a creature.

MUSIC up and down to bridge transition between narrators.

LEININGEN:

I stood on the bank of the river watching the Commissioner's launch until he'd rounded a bend and was lost to sight. There was a strange look in the Commissioner's eyes as he stood on deck staring back at me. Clearly, he thought me... uh, huh! -- at the very least, unreasonable. Well, he wouldn't've been the first to think so. But I, Leiningen, knew my own powers. I was sure of myself. I knew that intelligence, directed aright, always makes man the master of his fate. That night, I called my Indian workers together in front of the plantation house. I saw their faces go ashen with terror as I told them the ants were coming, watched them as they milled around, muttering.

The workers MILL and MUTTER.

LEININGEN:

I said nothing more to them. Finally, one of the men stepped forward: Black, the foreman.

MUSIC out.

FOREMAN:

But, [?], we have worked hard here for these three years. All of us. We have built the finest plantation in this district. We all share in it. It has been a home for all of us and our families. Now, the ants come.

LEININGEN:

So?

FOREMAN:

Those ditches we dug last year, the pipe we put in the ground -- that was for the ants?

LEININGEN (with authority):

That was for the ants.

The workers MURMUR their understanding.

FOREMAN:

We moved our families across the river. The ants could not reach them.

LEININGEN:

That's right. And you?

FOREMAN (uncertain):

The... the ants are mighty. We know what they can do... (certain) All of us think that you are mighty.

The workers SHOUT agreement.

FOREMAN:

We will stay and fight against the ants with you!

MUSIC in.

LEININGEN (narrates):

I knew the men would give me that answer. I'd counted on it. Suddenly, I thought of the Commissioner and wondered what he'd say at such unquestioning confidence. Would he still think I was... er, heh! -- unreasonable?

MUSIC up and down to bridge narrators.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

All that night, I could not get Leiningen out of my mind: one man who calmly evaluated his chances against a deadly menace, coolly decided that he could win, and was willing to stake his life on it, to risk a horrible death for it. It was terrifying and yet it was fascinating. When dawn came, I sent for my assistant. Together we went to the huge map of the district which hung from a wall in my office.

MUSIC out.

ASSISTANT:

The last reported position of the ants came in last night. They were, uh... uh, here. About seventy miles above this fork in the river.

COMMISSIONER:

Traveling southeast?

ASSISTANT:

Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER:

Hmm... Directly toward Leiningen.

ASSISTANT:

Uh, toward whom, sir?

COMMISSIONER:

Oh, that plantation at the bend in the river. Belongs to a man named Leiningen.

ASSISTANT:

Oh.

COMMISSIONER:

When would you say the ants will reach there?

ASSISTANT:

Why, I don't know, sir. I imagine about... tomorrow noon.

COMMISSIONER:

Tomorrow noon, huh? (quietly, to himself) Still time.

ASSISTANT:

Still time? What do you mean, sir?

COMMISSIONER:

Hm? Oh, nothing. Never mind.

MUSIC in and under.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

What did I mean? Still time for what? For Leiningen to flee or still time for me to--? Even as I rejected the thought with horror, I knew that the fascination of that man was more than I could resist, that Leiningen's fight was drawing my mind and drawing me back toward that plantation... and death. I knew past all doubt that I was going back to Leiningen's plantation. I had to.

MUSIC up and down.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

It was ten o'clock in the morning when I rounded the bend and saw Leiningen's plantation before me. I put in at the dock and tied up the launch and then... then I saw him standing on the bank above me, arms folded, stubby cigar in his mouth, and that same sardonic grin on his face. I made my way up to him.

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN (chuckles) Back for another warning, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER:

No.

LEININGEN:

Oh? Back to stay awhile?

COMMISSIONER:

Yes.

LEININGEN:

Ah! (laughs)

COMMISSIONER:

You don't seem very surprised.

LEININGEN:

I'm not.

COMMISSIONER:

You expected me?

LEININGEN:

I knew you'd be back. Come along. We'll get some horses. You'll want to ride around the plantation and take a look at the defenses I've rigged up.

COMMISSIONER:

Yes. Yes, I'll want to see the defenses...

LEININGEN:

And the ants. We'll be a getting a glimpse of them before long, I should think.

COMMISSIONER (quietly):

Yes... and the ants...

LEININGEN:

Come along then.

MUSIC in and under.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

The defenses Leiningen had devised were quite impressive. Surrounding three sides of the plantation like a huge horseshoe was a ditch, twelve feet wide. The ends of this horseshoe-shaped ditch ran into the river which formed the fourth side of the plantation. And at the up-river entrance to the ditch, Leiningen had constructed a dam by which river water could be diverted into the ditch. A large hand-wheel controlled the floodgate of the dam and apparently Leiningen had ordered it opened immediately after my arrival. For, as we now approached the ditch and rode along it, I could see that it was nearly full.

MUSIC out. Horses' HOOFBEATS.

LEININGEN:

Well, how do you like my first line of defense, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER:

Well, it's reassuring. It's like a moat around a castle.

LEININGEN:

Unless the ants know how to build rafts, they won't reach the plantation. But this is only the outer moat. There's a better one than this. Come along.

HOOFBEATS quicken, horses GRUNT.

LEININGEN:

We'll go up to the high ground where the buildings are. We can get a view from there.

COMMISSIONER (shouts over hoofbeats) Leiningen!

LEININGEN:

Huh?

COMMISSIONER:

I didn't see any women or children around the plantation. Or any animals.

LEININGEN:

That's right. Moved them across the river.

COMMISSIONER:

Oh, ho! You think there is danger?

LEININGEN:

Oh, not because of danger, Commissioner. A matter of efficiency.

COMMISSIONER:

Efficiency?

LEININGEN:

Cuts down the efficiency of the men if they're worried about their families. Critical situations only become crises when oxen or women get excited.

COMMISSIONER:

I might've known.

LEININGEN:

Eh?

COMMISSIONER:

Nothing.

LEININGEN:

Ah, here we are.

HOOFBEATS slow, horses PANT.

LEININGEN:

See the ditch?

COMMISSIONER:

Much smaller than the other.

LEININGEN:

You've noticed how all the buildings are on this piece of high ground. This inner ditch surrounds them. It's lined with concrete.

COMMISSIONER:

But even filled with water, this is no barrier. It's not big enough. Why, if the ants get this far, they'll--

LEININGEN:

They'll get no farther. This ditch wasn't built for water, Commissioner. See the pipes leading into it? See those storage tanks on the hill? Petrol. We can throw up a wall of flame...

Animals STAMPEDE in.

LEININGEN (continues):

... Would you care to bet they won't like that?

COMMISSIONER:

Leiningen! Look! Over at the edge of the jungle. All those animals.

LEININGEN:

Ha! Running like the wind everything from jaguars to monkeys.

COMMISSIONER:

Good heavens!

LEININGEN:

Ha! Ha! Ha! Remember, they don't have any ditches.

COMMISSIONER (darkly):

And there's no escape.

LEININGEN:

They'll be all right as long as they don't get caught between the river and the ants. They can outrun the crawlers. But if they get trapped, it's either the ants or the crocodiles.

COMMISSIONER (sickened):

Ooh...

LEININGEN:

Look! Look over there on the horizon. (in sudden awe) Billions of ants. Look at them.

Marching MUSIC in and then down.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

It was a sight I'll never forget. Over the range of hills, as far as eye could see, crept a darkening hem, ever longer and broader, until the shadow spread across the entire slope and then downward, downward, uncannily swift, and all the green herbage on the entire slope was being mown as by a giant sickle, leaving only the vast moving shadow, extending, deepening, and always... moving nearer.

LEININGEN:

Oh, they're a hideous lot.

COMMISSIONER:

Leiningen, we can't last against that. Look at them! Why, you could fill your ditches with their corpses and still have enough to destroy every one of us. We've got to run!

LEININGEN (a moment of doubt) Well, I... I... (suddenly defiant) No! They haven't reached us yet -- and they never will.

MUSIC up and down.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

The hostile army was approaching in perfect formation; no human battalions, however well-drilled, could ever hope to rival the precision of that advance. Along a front that moved forward as uniformly as a straight line, the ants drew nearer and nearer to the water ditch. As they approached, two outlying wings of the army detached themselves from the main body and started marching along the sides of the ditch, no doubt expecting at some point to find a crossing. And during this hour-long flanking movement, the main army remained still. Across the scant twelve feet of ditch, I stared at them... and they stared back at me, a solid mass every one as big as my thumb with a reddish black body and long legs.

A horrific HOWLING which continues under the following:

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Suddenly, a sound so unearthly as to freeze our blood. Just ahead, in the direction of the jungle, on the far side of the ditch. Coming toward the ditch at a stumbling gallop was a singular being, a writhing, animal-like blackened statue with a shapeless head and four quivering feet. It was a stag, covered over and over with ants. Leiningen threw up his rifle...

GUNSHOT; HOWLING stops; stag COLLAPSES.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

... and the stag fell lifeless to the ground. It's agonies at an end. Horrified as I was, my curiosity impelled me to glance at my watch. I had to know how long the ants would take.

MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

After six minutes, only the white polished bones of the stag remained.

MUSIC up and down.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Now I could see a change in Leiningen. Gone was the sporting zest for the novel contest. In its place was a cold violent purpose: to send these vermin back to the hell where they belonged. If he did not, we were both only too sure of the alternative. And now we even knew how long it would take the ants. An immense flood of ants, about a hundred yards in width, commenced pouring in a glimmering-black cataract down the far slope into the water-filled ditch. Thousands drowned instantly. But the rest began using the bodies as bridges. Leiningen immediately swung into action.

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN:

Anhail? Anhail?

WORKER 1:

[?]

LEININGEN:

Get to the dam! Open the floodgate more. Get the water in the ditch moving faster.

WORKER 1:

Si, Senor!

LEININGEN:

Ah, look at 'em drown -- by the thousands!

COMMISSIONER:

Yes, but they keep coming. Even though the current carries many of them away, they're advancing.

LEININGEN:

We'll fix them. Black?

FOREMAN:

Senor?

LEININGEN:

How 'bout those shovels and petrol sprinklers? Have you passed them out to the men?

FOREMAN:

It has been done.

LEININGEN:

Then get all hands here in a hurry. This looks like the spot for action.

Foreman YELLS for the men who arrive quickly and MUTTER under the following:

LEININGEN:

Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER:

Yes.

LEININGEN:

Beginning to see what I was talking about?

COMMISSIONER:

What do you mean?

LEININGEN:

About intelligence being more than a match for anything it tackles. Take the ants. They've got no intelligence. If they had, they'd have attacked along the whole length of the ditch instead of a narrow front like this. They'd've been across by now. Hmm... Ha ha! Too bad for 'em I'm not running their campaign.

COMMISSIONER:

You can joke about it like that with the ants halfway across the ditch?

LEININGEN (ignores him):

All right, men! Busy with the shovels now! Dump some sand and clods on them! See how they like that!

The men go to work, CHATTERING, SHOVELING and DUMPING.

LEININGEN:

You, with the petrol sprinklers! Start pumping!

Men CHATTER and PUMP.

LEININGEN:

Ha! Ha! Ha! They don't like it, Commissioner. They don't like it a bit! Ha! Ha! Look at them!

COMMISSIONER:

Yes. But look at the woods on the far side of the ditch -- whole clumps of them rolling into the water. The rest are using them for bridges.

LEININGEN:

What's keeping Anhail? He should be at the dam by now.

COMMISSIONER:

They're getting across! More of them!

LEININGEN:

Oh, grab a shovel, then, Commissioner. Make 'em regret it.

A worker SCREAMS.

LEININGEN:

What's the matter?

WORKER 2:

I've been [?]. [?] up my shovel! They're on my arm!

LEININGEN:

Into the petrol, idiot! Douse your paws in the petrol!

The workers REACT.

LEININGEN:

Keep at it! Keep at it! You're lost if you stop now!

A WHOOSHING sound.

LEININGEN:

Ah, ha! The water's moving faster. Anhail's got the floodgates open.

COMMISSIONER:

Yes.

LEININGEN:

Look at the ants! They can't hold their own against the current now. They're being washed away. Look at them, Commissioner! The water is carrying them away! We've beat them! We've won out!

MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

It was true. Leiningen had won... the opening round. The floodgates were left open to forestall any night crossings. When dawn came, the dark blanket was still there, motionless across the ditch. Then we noticed the feverish activity on the other side of the plantation. Here a grove of tamarind trees lined the far end of the ditch -- and every tree swarmed with the crawling insects. But instead of eating the leaves, they were merely gnawing through the stems, so that a thick green shower fell steadily to the ground.

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN:

Black, have all the petrol pumps brought, get everyone over here except the lookouts on the other side, and pass out the shovels.

FOREMAN:

Si, senor.

LEININGEN:

Ah, looks like I underestimated them when I said they didn't have intelligence.

COMMISSIONER:

What do you mean?

LEININGEN:

I said if they wanted to get across they'd have to have rafts. And that's just what they've got. Those leaves are their rafts.

MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Even as he spoke, the leaves went tumbling down the far bank by the thousands. The current drew them away from the bank and each leaf was crawling with ants!

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN:

Don't worry, Commissioner. I've still got a trick up my sleeve.

Suddenly, the workers SHOUT and HOLLER in shock.

COMMISSIONER:

The ditch is drying up!

LEININGEN:

Hah! Of course, it's drying up. That's the plan. Ha, ha! Those are the orders I sent to the dam.

COMMISSIONER:

Are you mad? As soon as it's empty, what's to prevent the ants from--? Look! Look, the water's way down! It's almost dry! They'll be able to come across the bottom!

LEININGEN:

They'll not make it if the man at the dam carries out his orders. He should have opened the gates again by now.

COMMISSIONER:

To... to flood the ants?

LEININGEN:

Right.

COMMISSIONER:

Well, what a chance to take! If anything should happen--! Don't you--?

The water WHOOSHES down the ditch.


LEININGEN (laughs hard):

Here it comes! Here comes the water! Ha! Now we'll give the crawlers in the ditch a good ride -- out into the river! There! Ha! Look at them go.

The workers CHATTER happily, the water WHOOSHES by, MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Leiningen's tactics were successful -- at first. The violent flow of water at the original depth raced through the ditch, overwhelming leaves and ants, and sweeping them along. Three times, the ditch was emptied. Three times, the ants raced across its bottom. And three times, the rushing water, arriving just in time, carried them away. But the fourth time, the level dropped nearly to the bottom of the ditch. We waited in vain for the rushing water -- and then:

MUSIC out. HOOFBEATS arrive, a horse GRUNTS.

FOREMAN:

Senor! Senor!

LEININGEN:

What's the matter? What's gone wrong at the dam?

FOREMAN:

The ants! The ants, Senor. Just as the man at the dam lowered the water almost to the bottom, the ants attack. Before he could open the floodgates, he was almost surrounded. He ran. The ants kept coming. They are across the ditch, Senor!

MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Leiningen stood motionless, absorbing the news of his defeat without a word. Then, simply, he raised his pistol...

Three loud PISTOL SHOTS.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

... and fired three shots into the air, the prearranged signal for all men to retreat, instantly, to the second line of defense, the concrete ditches more than a mile from the point of invasion. Soon after we arrived there, the natives commenced straggling in, silently. Leiningen waited until all of them had gathered, then he spoke.

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN:

Well, lads, we won the first round and lost the second. But we'll smash the crawlers yet. Anyone who thinks otherwise can draw his pay and push off. There're rafts enough on the river and plenty of time still to reach 'em.

The workers all SPEAK at once, rejecting the idea.

LEININGEN:

You'll stay, then?

The workers RESPOND affirmatively.

LEININGEN:

Thank you, lads. And you, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER:

I, er, can't persuade you to give up the fight, huh?

LEININGEN:

You cannot.

COMMISSIONER:

Then... I stay, too.

LEININGEN:

Ha! I knew you would.

FOREMAN:

Ah, Senor! A few of the ants have reached the ditch!

LEININGEN:

They're trying to get across?

FOREMAN:

No.

LEININGEN:

I didn't think they would. There's plenty of food over there for them. My fields, my orchards, my work of three years. Ha! Ought to last them until morning anyway.

MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Yes, we were safe for the moment. But the next morning, the black swarm was solid around us. Their shock troops were hard at work. They were dropping shreds of bark and twigs and leaves into the petrol-filled ditches forming a floating bridge across the surface of the liquid. Leiningen stood silently watching this operation and I could see a... a grudging admiration in his face. Then, after several hours... the attack came.

MUSIC up.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Down the ditch they poured! Millions of them! And, across the bridge of twigs, rapidly approached the inner side. Leiningen sat motionless, watching them. Watching them!

MUSIC out.

COMMISSIONER:

Leiningen, for the love of God, don't sit there like a statue! They'll be on us in a moment!

LEININGEN:

Let them fill the ditch first... Now! All right! Everyone back from the ditch!

The workers YELP and HOLLER under the following:

LEININGEN:

Black, hand me the torches.

A torch is IGNITED and BURNS.

LEININGEN:

Now we'll see how our friends like a little heat around 'em.

The petrol IGNITES and BURNS. The men HOLLER their approval. MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

The flames from the ditch shot into the air, devouring ants by the millions. It was some time before the petrol burned down to the bed of the ditch, and when it did, the devils came back for more. Again and again, Leiningen fired the ditch to destroy them. But as they returned to the assault, time after time, a slow, sickening horror crept into my mind. I looked quickly at Leiningen and then the petrol tanks. He read my gaze; nodded slowly.

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN:

That's right, Commissioner. We could hold them off forever if our supply of petrol was unlimited. But it isn't. We've only got enough to fill the ditch once more.

COMMISSIONER:

Leiningen. Isn't there a way? Any way at all?

LEININGEN:

Ah, there must be... Yes, there must be a way... Yes. Yes! Yes!!

COMMISSIONER:

What is it?

LEININGEN:

We'll flood the whole plantation!

COMMISSIONER:

Flood? But how?

LEININGEN:

The river's higher than any point except this high ground we're on now. If the river was dammed all the way, it would overflow that stone breakwater and flood the whole plantation. We've got to close the floodgate at the dam. That'll do it!

COMMISSIONER:

You're mad! The dam is more than a mile away! A mile of ants! It's impossible! You'll never get there, let alone get back.

LEININGEN:

That's where you're wrong, Commissioner. I'll get there. I'll get back. Ha! Ha! Take care of things while I'm gone, eh?

MUSIC in.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

I watched him as he calmly pulled on high leather boots, drew gauntlets over his hands, and stuffed the spaces between breeches and boots, gauntlets and arms, with petrol-soaked rags. He shielded his eyes with close-fitting mosquito goggles. He plugged his nostrils and ears with cotton. Then the natives drenched his clothes with petrol. Black, who acted as doctor to the men, smeared a salve over him. And, finally, Leiningen was ready. As he stood surveying the course he must take to the dam, I sensed a sudden calm.

LEININGEN (narrates):

As I stood near the ditch, ready for the run, I realized this was as it should be: I, Leiningen, would meet the ants and defeat them -- or be defeated by them. Ha! Leiningen versus the ants! Yes, it was right that it should be like this. And now there was no more time for thought -- only action. I took a deep breath... then bounded across the ditch in among the ants.

MUSIC up and out. Running FOOTSTEPS and heavy BREATHING.

LEININGEN (narrates):

I ran. I ran in long, equal strides, with only one thought, one sensation, in my being -- I must get through. I dodged all trees and shrubs; except for the split seconds my soles touched the ground the ants would have no opportunity to alight on me. I ran on. I was halfway to the dam before I felt ants under his clothes, and a few on his face. I struck at them mechanically, scarcely conscious of their bites. The dam drew towards me slowly. The distance grew less... less... Finally, only a hundred yards away. Fifty! Then I was there. I gripped the ant-covered wheel. But hardly had I seized it when a horde of ants flowed over my hands and arms. I strained.

The wheel CREAKS.

LEININGEN (narrates):

Slowly, the wheel turned... turned more... Floodgates were swinging slowly shut. But then...

Metal CLANGING.

LEININGEN (narrates):

It was shut. And the water was rising...

Water RISES.

LEININGEN (narrates):

Rising behind the breakwater -- closer to the top. Closer! Then it was spilling over.

Water SPILLS.

LEININGEN (narrates):

The flooding of the plantation had begun. I let go of the wheel. Started back through the ants.

Running FOOTSTEPS.

LEININGEN (narrates):

For the first time, I realized I was coated from head to foot with the [?]. Tongues of fire stabbed me and bit into my flesh. I almost lost my head with the pain as I ran, knocking ants from my body, brushing them from my bloodied face, and... and then... (groans) one bit me just below the rim of my goggles; managed to tear it away, but the agony of the bite and its venom drilled into the eye nerves; I-I saw now through circles of fire into a milky mist. I was almost blinded but I knew that if I tripped and fell, I.... (breathes heavily) I ran on, my heart pounding as if it would burst; blood roaring in my ears; a giant's fist battering my lungs. Then, I-I could see -- dimly -- that wall of flame at the ditch. Oh, but it was too far away; I couldn't last half that distance.

Leiningen STUMBLES and FALLS.

LEININGEN (narrates):

I stumbled. I fell. I felt myself being swarmed over -- devoured! Tried to rise... A great weight... And suddenly the vision of the half-devoured stag in my brain: six minutes, then nothing but bones. I couldn't let that happen to me! I couldn't die like that! To my feet. My feet. I dragged myself forward, toward the flames.

MUSIC in.

LEININGEN (narrates):

The ditch! Ring of flames! Closer, now! Only a little farther! Ten steps! Eight! Five!

MUSIC up and down.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

It seemed we had waited for hours... when all at once, through the blazing ring around us, an apparition hurtled and fell full length on the ground. It was Leiningen, alive with ants, unconscious, with glazing eyes and lacerated face. We rushed to him, stripped off his clothes, and tore at the ants that covered him. His body seemed almost one open wound; in one place, I could see a white bone.

MUSIC up and down.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

Later, as the curtain of flame lowered, I looked out where that blanket of ants had been and saw only a vast expanse of water, covering the entire plantation, and working its way to within a few feet of the concrete ditch. The ants were gone -- drowned -- and Leiningen had won. He lay on his bed, body swathed from head to foot with bandages. But alive -- and still in command.

MUSIC out.

LEININGEN (weakly):

Everything... in order?

COMMISSIONER:

Everything's in order.

LEININGEN:

I told you I'd come back. (chuckles) Even if I am a bit streamlined.

COMMISSIONER (narrates):

He grinned, shut his eyes. He slept.

MUSIC in and out.

ANNOUNCER:

"Escape" was directed this week by Richard [Sandville?] and brought to you "Leiningen versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, adapted for radio by Robert Ryf with Tudor Owen as Leiningen and Gerald Mohr as The Commissioner. Music conducted by Wilber Hatch.

Theme MUSIC in.

ANNOUNCER:

Next week:

2ND ANNOUNCER:

You are standing at the doorway of a cabin in Cashier Creek. Up on the ridge, the bloodhounds have caught your scent. And between you and a fortune, between you and escape yawn the white jaws of a deadly snake -- a cottonmouth moccasin!

MUSIC in and out:

"Night on Bald Mountain"

ANNOUNCER:

Next week, we escape with Irvin S. Cobb's ironic story, "Snake Doctor." Be with us next week at this same time when once again we offer you "Escape!"

Closing MUSIC.

ANNOUNCER:

Ethelbert, Ann and Casey will be along in a few moments with tonight's "Crime Photographer" drama, entitled "Sell-Out." All year long, "Casey, Crime Photographer" has been one of radio's top-rating shows. You're sure to enjoy the proceedings coming up over most of these same CBS stations. [?] Corning speaking. This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.

MUSIC out.


Broadcast date: 4 August 1949