Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Lights Out
Show: Revolt of the Worms
Date: Oct 13 1942

CAST:

CHARLES, the chemist
CLAIRE, his wife
JACKSON, his assistant
SCIENTIST, his colleague
CHARLES' VOICE, his inner voice

SOUND:

GONG

CHARLES:

(THINKS) All I can do is sit and think and wait. Wait for the floors to lift and the walls to crash. Facts. Think of Facts. Yes, a journal of facts. Think. How it began. Why it's happening. Journal of facts until the walls crash in and the thick flesh-- (SHUDDER) Charles Prentice. There's a fact. Chemist, and fool.

CHARLES' VOICE:

(WHISPERS OMINOUSLY) Fool! Run away, run away, run away. (REPEATS "RUN AWAY" ... IN BG, FADES)

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Run away from reality.

CHARLES' VOICE:

(WHISPERS) War! War! War! (REPEATS "WAR" ... IN BG, FADES)

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Run away.

CLAIRE:

You mean we're going to live in this God-forsaken place, Charles?

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes, Claire, I remember. You did say that. And I said-- (SPEAKS) Of course we're going to live here. It's ideal for my work.

CLAIRE:

But we're so far away from everything, Charles.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) So far away from what? YOUR friends? MY friends?

CLAIRE:

All right, Charles. (MOVING OFF) Whatever you say, Charles.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) You never disagreed with me, did you Claire?

JACKSON:

Why, it's so quiet up here, it's almost as if we were out of this world.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes. I remember. Young Jackson. You did say that.

JACKSON:

I like working with you sir. Why up here, it's almost as if we were out of this world.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Out of the world. I wanted to be out of the world.

CHARLES' VOICE:

Hide. Until it's over.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes, why not? Why not?

SCIENTIST:

What are you going all the way up there for, Prentice?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) To do my work, of course.

SCIENTIST:

But who cares about propagating new varieties of roses at a time like this?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) The times have nothing to do with it. I'll do what I please. (MOVING OFF) I'll do what I please.

SCIENTIST:

But, Prentice, to leave suddenly like this. It doesn't make sense. Roses are fine in normal times but a chemist of your ability? In times like these certainly there's more productive work that you could do.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) I'm not interested in your opinions. I'll do what I please. (MOVING OFF) Do you hear me? Do what I please. (THINKS) Do what I please.

JACKSON:

(MOVING ON) Yes, sir. Everything's ready, sir. Greenhouse -- all ready for you, sir.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) One week ago. Wednesday.

SOUND:

WIND BLOWING, THEN IN BG

CLAIRE:

Does the wind always blow up here, Charles?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Eh?

CLAIRE:

I said, the wind. Does it always blow like that?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Why?

CLAIRE:

It's frightening.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Mighty less frightening than the things that are happening back in the city.

CLAIRE:

I suppose so.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) I know so. Where's that boy? (CALLING) Jackson!

JACKSON:

(COMING ON) Yes sir?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) The phosphates, are they ready yet?

JACKSON:

Uh, not quite, sir.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well, get them ready. Every one of the plants. We work late tonight. (MOVING OFF) Very late.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Work late, and hard. That was the answer to everything.

SCIENTIST:

(IN CHARLES' MIND, HECTORING) A chemist of your ability? In times like these, there certainly must be more important work than propagating roses that you could do. A chemist of your ability? In times like these, there certainly must be more--

CHARLES:

(THINKS) No, no, I wouldn't think of that, I told myself. Wouldn't think of that. Roses. Yes. Develop the greatest rose in the world. THAT would be my answer to them. While they bombed and burned, I'd develop the largest rose the world had ever known. And when the world settled down again, I'd come back and bring the rose to them and they wouldn't care if I had ... run away.

My plan. Why did it go wrong? Claire, why did it go wrong? Clai-- Ohhh. Dead. You're dead. THEY killed you. Dead, as I'll be dead. If I could only think-- Why did it go wrong?

JACKSON:

Where'll I put the solution that's left over, Mr. Prentice?

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes! I do remember. That was it.

JACKSON:

Oh gosh, Mr. Prentice, I'm trying to understand. But - I'm so tired.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) You must keep working. The only salvation is to work.

JACKSON:

What's salvation got to do with roses?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Don't be impertinent. Do your work.

JACKSON:

Yes, sir.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Two cc for each plant, and careful. Don't let any of it touch the stem.

JACKSON:

Yes, sir. (MOVING OFF) Yes, sir.

CHARLES (THINKS) You weren't very happy, were you, Jackson? Those were things you couldn't understand.

JACKSON:

It - it isn't that I - I don't want to work, Mr. Prentice. It - it's just that I'm all mixed up. These roses; why do I have to pour this stuff on 'em every hour on the hour? It doesn't make sense.

Hormones?Sure, I know what they are. Secretions from the glands in the human body.

Sure, I know what they're for. Make us grow and everything.

I get it. That - that's what you try to do with the roses. Make 'em grow fast and big. But - how do you know these hormones'll work on plants, Mr. Prentice?

(MOVING OFF) And how do you know how much to give 'em, and how big will the roses grow, Mr. Prentice?

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Questions. Everlasting questions. But now I ask them. Why did it go wrong?

CHARLES' VOICE:

Thursday.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Thursday? What do I remember?

JACKSON:

(MOVING ON) Where'll I throw the hormone mixture that's left over, Mr. Prentice? (NO ANSWER) Mr. Prentice, I said, where'll I throw the hormone--?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, HARSHLY) Go away! Can't you see that I'm working?

JACKSON:

(MOVING OFF) Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes. I remember.

CHARLES' VOICE:

(SINISTER) Friday.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) What of Friday?

SOUND:

WIND BLOWS, CONTINUES IN BG

CHARLES' VOICE:

(SINISTER) Friday night.

CLAIRE:

(CHEERFUL HUMMING OF CLASSICAL MELODY)

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, OFF) Claire?

CLAIRE:

Yes?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, OFF) Is that you?

CLAIRE:

Yes, Charles.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, MOVING ON) What are you doing walking out here in the dark?

CLAIRE:

It's a lovely night.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, SCOFFS) Romantic, at your age.

CLAIRE:

I - just like the night.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) You women! Come back to the house.

CLAIRE:

All right.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Crazy. Walking around in the dark.

CLAIRE:

(STARTLED CRY AS SHE SLIPS AND ALMOST FALLS)

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, ANNOYED) Eh--?! Oh! What's the matter with you? Can't you walk? If I hadn't caught you--

CLAIRE:

It's slippery.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) What are you talking about?

CLAIRE:

It's - all slippery around here.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Don't talk foolishness.

CLAIRE:

But it is.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, AFTER A BEAT) By George. You're right.

CLAIRE:

What--?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Stand still. I'll light a match. (SEARCHES FOR MATCH) I had some-- (FINDS MATCHES) Yes. Now, we'll see what--

SOUND:

MATCH STRIKES

CLAIRE:

(GASPS) Charles!

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Stop grabbing. (CHUCKLES) Worms.

CLAIRE:

What?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Can't you see?Just ordinary earthworms. Night crawlers. We just walked over a few of them. Oh, you women with your fears and your squeamishness. (MOVING OFF) Walk on a few worms and you make more noise and more fuss-- (FADES OUT)

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes. I remember. Friday night.

JACKSON:

The - the extra hormone solution. Where'll I throw it, Mr. Prentice? (NO ANSWER) Mr. Prentice, where'll I throw the extra hormone solution? (FADES)

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Saturday. And then, the night.

CHARLES:

(CALLING, FROM OFF) Jackson! Jackson, where are you?! Jackson, I told you to stay in the house! Jackson, where are you?! Time to feed the plants! (MOVING ON) Jackson, where are you--?!

CLAIRE:

He's not here, Charles.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, STARTLED) Claire! You startled me, walking up like that.

CLAIRE:

I didn't mean to.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) That infernal boy -- where is he? Have you seen him?

CLAIRE:

He's not in the house.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) But I told him not to go out. I told him only an hour ago he's got to work all night. The plants must be watered every hour on the hour.

CLAIRE:

He went out.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well, why didn't you stop him?

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Now I'll have to go chase after him.

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS ... WIND BLOWING, CONTINUES IN BG

CHARLES:

(CALLING) Jackson! Jackson, are you out there?! Come in!

SOUND:

THUNDER

CLAIRE:

(STARTLED BY THUNDER) Oh, Charles, what--?

CHARLES:

(STARTLED BY CLAIRE AT HIS SIDE, SPEAKS) Oh! (ANNOYED) Well, what did you think it was? Thunder. It's starting to rain. Shut the door.

SOUND:

THUNDER

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Shut the door, I say.

SOUND:

DOOR CLOSES, MUFFLES THE WIND

CLAIRE:

But the boy--

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) If he hasn't the sense to come in out of the rain, it's just too bad. I've got enough to do with worrying about my roses without worrying about him. And don't you go out after him. He'll come back. (MOVING OFF) He'll come back.

SOUND:

WIND OUT

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Saturday night. And when it was day again--

CLAIRE:

Charles, Charles, wake up. Please wake up.

CHARLES:

(WAKING, SPEAKS) Mm? Huh? Oh. Where--?

CLAIRE:

You're on the couch. You fell asleep on the couch. Charles, get up right away.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) What - what's the matter with you? Why should I get up? (YAWNS) What difference does it make?

CLAIRE:

Listen to me, please. The boy. He isn't back yet.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Huh?

CLAIRE:

Jackson, he isn't back yet. Charles, where could he be? The storm. You slept, I waited--

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Wait a minute, wait a minute. Have you - looked in his room?

CLAIRE:

I just came from there. Charles, where could he have gone to? All through the storm--

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Oh, stop talking so much and let me get up. (YAWNS) I'll - go - see.

SOUND:

THEIR FOOTSTEPS, IN BG

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Ohhh. Must you follow me? Why didn't you wake me up? Why did you let me sleep?

CLAIRE:

I - must have fallen asleep, too. I opened my eyes, it was day. Oh, Charles!

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Oh, stop "Oh, Charles"-ing me. Crazy young fool. So he spent the night outside. So what's the difference? Teach him a lesson.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS OUT ... DOOR OPENS

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well... No wonder he isn't back yet. Fog like this, it's as bad as night.

CLAIRE:

Charles--

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) All right, all right! What am I supposed to do? Go wandering through fog like a bloodhound? Like a fool? Don't worry. He'll be back. (MOVING OFF) He'll be back.

CHARLES:

(THINKS) But - you never did come back, did you, Jackson? When the sun came out and that everlasting wind came up and lifted the fog ...

SOUND:

WIND BLOWS, IN BG

CLAIRE:

(OFF) Charles?! Charles, come here!

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Where? Where are you?

CLAIRE:

(OFF) Back of the house, Charles. Come quickly!

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Oh - oh, what is it?What do you want now? The boy isn't around. I - I've looked everywhere. Now, what--?

CLAIRE:

Charles, what happened back here?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) What?

CLAIRE:

Look at the ground.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well, what in the--? Who plowed this ground up?

CLAIRE:

Plowed?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Yes, certainly plowed. Can't you see? Some crazy drunken fool plowed up the ground.

CLAIRE:

But during the night? Charles, how could that be?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) You believe what you see, don't you? It's that boy.

CLAIRE:

What?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Yes, that Jackson. Went crazy. Found a plow, tore up the ground, and ran away. Went out of his mind, that's it. The boy's gone crazy, tearing up the ground. Gone crazy. (MOVING OFF) Gone crazy.

SOUND:

GONG

CHARLES:

(THINKS) And then, that night, that same night after I thought Jackson had gone crazy - run away, I went back to my work. Sunday night.

SOUND:

CHEMICALS BUBBLING

CLAIRE:

(MOVING ON) Charles? Charles, can I speak to you? Charles, please stop your work and talk to me.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Haven't you lived with me enough years to know I don't like to be interrupted when I'm working?

CLAIRE:

But I'm frightened.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, SNIDELY) Are you? Really?

SOUND:

CHEMICALS BUBBLING

CLAIRE:

Charles, stop it!

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Are you out of your mind?

CLAIRE:

Yes, maybe I am.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) What did you say?

CLAIRE:

Maybe I am crazy. All right, maybe I am. It's the only way I could have lived with you all these years.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) What?

CLAIRE:

Endured your selfishness, your unbelievable selfishness.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well!

CLAIRE:

Everything's for you. For twenty years, everything's for you.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Now that's enough--

CLAIRE:

Your work, your pleasures, what you think, what you want. Everything for you. Nothing for anyone else.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Will you shut up?

CLAIRE:

(OVERLAPS) The gentle little Mr. Prentice, the scientist. The good husband who never lifts his voice. Mother in heaven, I'd rather be married to a fool with a heart in him than you.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well, I'm--

CLAIRE:

You haven't got a heart. You never had a heart. It's you, you, and no one else. And that boy can be dead out there and you don't care. And I can be dead and you don't care as long as you're safe and doing what you want to do.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Will you go away and let me go on with my work?

CLAIRE:

(WEEPS) Charles, Charles, I'm frightened. That boy. Now the noises.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) I'm asking you for the last time to go away and let me do my work.

CLAIRE:

But listen to me. You've been out here all night. I've been in the back of the house alone. And I've been listening. And I didn't want to come in here but I had to. Charles, things I said, I meant them. For years, I've meant them. All right, that doesn't matter. But I tell you this: (INTENSE) There's something outside the house. Find out what it is, Charles.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Twenty years ago I thought you were an irrational woman. I thought I'd trained you out of that irrationality. I was wrong. I'll humor you just this once but never again. Where are these - noises?

CLAIRE:

At the back of the house.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) The lantern, hand it to me.

CLAIRE:

Yes.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Thank you.

SOUND:

THEIR FOOTSTEPS ... CONTINUE IN BG

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) You're frightened. You don't have to go with me.

CLAIRE:

I want to know.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) What? That you're a fool?

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS OUT ... DOOR OPENS ... WIND BLOWS, CONTINUES IN BG

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Well? So what am I supposed to hear? There's nothing. (CALLING OUT) Hello, out there! Hello! (TO CLAIRE) Well, what now?

CLAIRE:

Listen.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) To what?

CLAIRE:

Listen.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) To what?

CLAIRE:

I - I thought--

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) You heard the wind whistling through the cracks in your brain. Come into the house.

CLAIRE:

Charles, wait.

CHARLES:

Wait for--?

SOUND:

LOW GRINDING, CONTINUES IN BG

CLAIRE:

Hear?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Yes. So what? Give me the lantern. If it's that boy--

CLAIRE:

Oh, it could be him, couldn't it?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) That crazy young fool, playing practical jokes. If I get around the corner of the house and--

CLAIRE:

(GASP AND CRY OF SURPRISE)

SOUND:

GRINDING GROWS LOUDER, THEN IN BG

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS, CONFUSED) What's - going on here?

CLAIRE:

(TERRIFIED) Charles! Something - moving - under - the - ground.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Yes. So dark, can't quite make out--

CLAIRE:

Charles, what - is - it?

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) I don't know. I don't know. Animal of some sort?

CLAIRE:

Take me back to the house.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) Oh, go yourself. Moon'll come out of the clouds - see what this is.

CLAIRE:

Give me the lantern, Charles.

CHARLES:

(SPEAKS) No, I want to see. The house is back there. Turn around, go back to it. Go ahead.

CLAIRE:

All right. (MOVING OFF) All right.

SOUND:

GRINDING GROWS LOUDER, THEN IN BG

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes. It IS something. Burrowing. If the infernal moon'd come out, I'd see-- There. Coming out now - I'll see what-- Holes! Holes in the ground, all over. What are they? Who--? Bomb craters? But that isn't possible. (REALIZES) No. Animal burrows. But what animal could make a hole four feet across? What animal--?

CLAIRE:

(OFF, BLOODCURDLING SCREAM) CHAAAAAARRRRRLLLLES!

CHARLES:

(YELLS) Claire! Where are you?! Claire! (MOVING ON AND OFF) So dark, I can't see you! Claire! Where are you?! Claire!

CHARLES' VOICE:

(REPEATS "CLAIRE! WHERE ARE YOU?!" IN BG)

CHARLES:

(OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE, THINKS) Yes, Claire. I ran through the night looking for you. The echo of my voice is still in my ears. Looking for you, and the moon was under the clouds and I couldn't see you, I couldn't find you. And then, I did!

CHARLES' VOICE:

(STOPS REPEATING "CLAIRE! WHERE ARE YOU?!")

CHARLES:

(THINKS) You had fallen into one of those craters. Into one of those holes in the ground. I couldn't see you, but I could hear you.

CLAIRE:

(MUFFLED WHIMPERS, CONTINUES IN BG)

CHARLES:

(THINKS) But which one of the holes? They were all over. Ground, pock-marked with them. I ran around in the dark. I could hear you but couldn't find you and then - the moon, it was out again. Oh, blast the moon, why did it come out? If it hadn't come out, I wouldn't have seen. And my head--

Stop it! Stop it! Stop it, Claire! Stop it! I can still hear you! I can still see you. Your body down in that hole. As I ran toward you, suddenly I saw that something else was coming toward you. Something that glistened - wet in the moonlight. Something long and slimy. A great twisting snake. Yet not a snake. Not - a snake. And the fear in me made me fall to the ground and I saw as I lay there-- I saw!

The thing moved toward the hole in the ground as if you weren't there. As if it were blind and couldn't see. Like a great blind worm. It WAS a worm! A worm, ten, twenty-- No, thirty feet long. Crawling in fright to its home in the ground. And it moved toward YOU, Claire. Covered you. Crushed you.

CLAIRE:

(MUFFLED DEATH SCREAM ... THEN SILENCE)

CHARLES:

(THINKS) You're - dead, Claire. You've been dead for two days. Why should I tear out of my memory all the horror of how you died? Of how young Jackson must have died?

JACKSON:

Where'll I throw the extra hormone solution, Mr. Prentice? (FADING OUT) Where'll I throw the extra hormone solution, Mr. Prentice?

CHARLES:

(THINKS) Yes. That's very funny, isn't it, Jackson? I ran away and I was going to bring back to the world the greatest rose. But I brought back the greatest worms. The hormones you threw away soaked into the ground and into them. Hundreds of little worms burrowing under the ground, soaking into their flesh, into their life process. Miraculously increasing the growth of THEM. Until, overnight, they grew and grew without limit into those terrible horrors.

SOUND:

GRINDING ... CONTINUES IN BG, MOVING CLOSER, SLOWLY GROWING LOUDER

CHARLES:

(THINKS) And they are still growing. (PAUSE) I can hear them. For the last two days, squirming around the house. And over it. Great monstrous pieces of slimy flesh. Squirming - and writhing. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. Burrowing under the ground - and, at night, coming out of the ground. I have seen them. A sea of flesh. A sea - of worms.

Yes, I hear you out there, you worms. You were under the ground. And now there's no room underground for you so you come out of the ground. The world WAS yours first, so now you're going to take it back again. The world for the worms.

SOUND:

WOOD CRACKS AND SNAPS ... GRINDING CONTINUES IN BG, LOUDER AND LOUDER

CHARLES:

(THINKS) You're under the house. You're lifting it. The walls will fall and crush me and I'll be dead and I want to be dead! Yes, now I know why this is happening to me. I thought I could run away from the world and what is happening IN the world. You hear that, you worms out there? I thought I could run away! (LETHARGIC) Now ... Now, I'm - very tired. Just sit here and wait, wait for them. I know how I'll die. The walls falling, crushing--

SOUND:

GLASS BREAKS

CHARLES:

(REACTS, THINKS) Window. (REALIZES, TERRIFIED) Something - behind me. (SHUDDERS, GASPS) A worm. At the window. Head looking in.

SOUND:

MORE WOOD BREAKING, MORE GRINDING

CHARLES:

(THINKS) He's crawling in. And another following. And another.

SOUND:

WOOD CRACKS ... GRINDING REACHES ITS PEAK DURING FOLLOWING

CHARLES:

(THINKS) They're filling the room. Worms. All around me. The worms. The worms. Around me. Worms, covering me. Cold flesh. Wet flesh. The worms. The worms. Covering me. The worms. (INCREASINGLY INCOHERENT, THEN SUFFOCATING)

SOUND:

SQUISHY FLESH ... GRINDING CONTINUES, THEN ABRUPTLY STOPS

SOUND:

GONG