Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Lights Out
Show: Chicken Heart
Date: Feb 23 1938

CAST:
VOICE

DR. ALBERTS, scientist
LEWIS, reporter
INTERN, at the institute

MRS. HALOP
LADY 1
LADY 2
LADY 3
LADY 4

SECRETARY
DR. ATKINS
FAINTING WOMAN
VOICE

STREET VOICE 1
STREET VOICE 2
STREET VOICE 3
STREET VOICE 4
STREET VOICE 5

SAM
MR. ROSEN
BUSYBODY WOMAN
COP
POLICE CAPTAIN

MAYOR
CROWD VOICE 1
CROWD VOICE 2
CROWD VOICE 3
CROWD VOICE 4
CROWD VOICE 5
CROWD VOICE 6
CROWD VOICE 7
CROWD VOICE 8

FIREMAN
FIRE CHIEF
RADIO VOICE
SOLDIER
ARMY CAPTAIN

VOICE:

Lights out, everybody.

SOUND:

TWELVE CLOCK CHIMES, WIND MACHINE UP ON SEVEN

GONG

ALBERTS:

(DEFINITIVE GERMAN ACCENT -- PLAY HIM IN THE "JEAN HERSHOLT" MANNER) (FADE IN) Women, women, women, women, women, women! I tell you, they make me sick like I have never been sick before!

LEWIS:

(AMUSEDLY) I take it, then, Doctor Alberts, that you aren't looking forward with a great deal of pleasure to the annual visit of the wives of our dear trustees.

ALBERTS:

Every year I get a headache, every year it is the same thing!...Those women -- why must they come here? Disrupting our work!

SOUND:

RINGING TELEPHONE 1 RING

ALBERTS:

Excuse me, please.

LEWIS:

Of course.

SOUND:

RECEIVER OFF

ALBERTS:

Hello, hello? Yes, yes, this is Doctor Alberts! (EXPLOSIVELY) What? Sandwiches? Sandwiches for what? Is this a research laboratory or a restaurant?... All right, all right, order the sandwiches! Maybe if they eat they go away faster!... Ya, ya, I leave everything to you! Goodbye!

SOUND:

RECEIVER HANGUP

ALBERTS:

(DISGUSTEDLY) Sandwiches!

LEWIS:

(AMUSEDLY) For some reason, your annual tour of inspection always gives the ladies an appetite, isn't that true?

ALBERTS:

Ach, I tell you, it makes me sick! They look in the test-tubes -- do they understand what is in them? No! But every year they come -- every year the same foolish questions -- every year the same waste of time! (IN DEEP DISGUST) The wives of the trustees! Home they should stay. Now, then, what were we discussing?

LEWIS:

(AMUSEDLY) The end of the world.

ALBERTS:

Ach, yes, yes, that article on the end of the world!

LEWIS:

You were saying that is it your belief that the rotation of the earth would gradually slow down until someday the earth would stop entirely.

ALBERTS:

Yah. Yah, and when that day comes it will mean the end of all human life -- Inevitably! Six months of unbelievable cold and then six months of unbelievable heat! Finished -- everything!

LEWIS:

But why, Doctor -- I mean why should the earth stop rotating? It whirls in a frictionless vacuum, doesn't it?

ALBERTS:

Yah, but there are influences which drag it back, particularly the tides of the oceans! Eventually, just as the moon's revolutions have stopped, so will the earth, and then, for man, calamity! Of course that will all happen oh, maybe two thousand million years from now.

LEWIS:

(LAUGHING IN MOCK RELIEF) Well, that's a relief! Two thousand million years give me time, yet, to clean up a few loose ends!

ALBERTS:

Ach, I don't know why I waste time with you! You are like the other reporters -- nothing but wise-cracks and foolishness!

LEWIS:

(CONTRITELY) Oh, no, Doctor Alberts, I didn't mean to...

ALBERTS:

(INTERRUPTS CHUCKLING) Ach, it is all right! I need more wisecracks in my life! (SERIOUSLY) You are a fine young man, Lewis -- never have you distorted what I have told you to make sensationalism for the headlines like most of the other newspapermen have. You have always been honest with me, and I like you.

LEWIS:

(SIMPLY) Thank you, Doctor.

ALBERTS:

Now then for this symposium of what scientists predict for the end of mankind, you might also say that I predict that the end for mankind will come with the cessation of the earth's rotation because at that time one side of the earth will always be hidden from the sun, and consequently will be covered with an ice-cap hundreds of miles thick! On the other hand, the side that always faces the sun will be heated to a point where everything will be burned down to a great desert of red-hot sand and rocks!

LEWIS:

Well!

ALBERTS:

Ach, but that is not all! Between the hot and cold sides of the earth there will be a sort of twilight zone, not affected by the direct blasting heat of the sun. But if you think future man could live in this section, think again! Life would be impossible! Great tearing hurricanes moving hundreds of miles an hour, will rear never stopping from the sunny side of the world to the cold side until finally, after hundreds of years, the air itself is frozen up and there can be no more winds!

LEWIS:

Say! That's quite a picture!

ALBERTS:

You can quote me as saying further that of only one thing in the future Leon Alberts is absolutely positive of, and that is that the end of the world from mankind's stand-point will not occur until at least two thousand millions of years have passed, and that when the catastrophe does occur...

SOUND:

KNOCKING AT DOOR (OFF) 4 KNOCKS

ALBERTS:

Excuse me, please. (UP) Come in.

SOUND:

DOOR OPENING (OFF)

INTERN:

(OFF) Beg your pardon, Dr. Alberts...

ALBERTS:

Yah, yah, what is it?

INTERN:

(FADING ON) The ladies, sir -- the trustee's wives, sir...

ALBERTS:

Well? Well?

INTERN:

They want you to show them the mechanical heart, sir.

ALBERTS:

Mechanical heart? I knew it! I knew it! Mr. Lewis, why is it, the minute a visitor comes into the institute, right away the first thing they must see is the mechanical heart!

LEWIS:

Well, after all, the idea of a heart beating away and having life outside of a body is rather intriguing!

ALBERTS:

Yah, yah, but this is an institute of research, not a sideshow!

INTERN:

Shall I tell the ladies you won't...

ALBERTS:

Who says that I won't? Come along, Mr. Lewis -- you will see me in my annual role as -- how you say it -- sideshow barker! Come along!

LEWIS:

(AMUSEDLY) All right, if you'll give me the rest of my article on the end of the world as soon as you're through!

ALBERTS:

The end of the world? What does that matter when the wives of the trustees want to be entertained! Women, women, women! Ach, they make me sick! (FADE) They make me sick like I've never been sick before!...

SOUND:

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE -- SHORT

SOUND:

GENERAL AD LIB CACKLE OF LADIES IS HEARD THROUGHOUT THE SCENE, WITH DISTINCTIVE LINES CUTTING THROUGH THE BABBLE.

LADY 1:

Oh, I do think it's the most exciting thing!

LADY 2:

I just love the way Dr. Alberts wears his hair -- I simply love it!

LADY 3:

A mechanical heart!

LADY 4:

I think it's simply marvelous what modern science is doing even if I don't understand a thing about it -- not a single thing!

ALBERTS:

(SOTTO -- IN WEARY DISGUST) You hear them, Lewis? Was it for this that the first organism that was eventually to become man -- struggled its way out of the Protozoic slime eight hundred million years ago?

LEWIS:

(AMUSED) I wish I could help you out, doctor.

HALOP:

(THE CHAIRLADY TYPE) (IN FAST) Here we are, Dr. Alberts! All ready! The ladies are simply dying to hear your masterly exposition of the artificial heart or whatever you call it! (AS SHE SEES LEWIS) Oh, this gentleman... I don't believe I've had the pleasure...

ALBERTS:

This is Mr. Lewis -- with one of the newspapers...

HALOP:

(VERY CORDIALLY) A reporter! How interesting! I'm Mrs. John C. Halop... (SPELLS CAREFULLY) H-A-L-O-P.

ALBERTS:

(WEARILY) If you please... in here...

HALOP:

Oh, of course! (UP) This way, ladies! The dear doctor is ready for us! (AD LIB CACKLE OF WOMEN UP AND CONTINUES)

LADY 2:

Oh, my, isn't everything neat and clean!

LADY 3:

Look at all the bottles! Just like my own pantry!

LADY 4:

Where's the heart? I don't see any heart!

HALOP:

(ABOVE AD LIBS) Quiet, ladies! Quiet, please! If you please! (THEY IGNORE HER)

ALBERTS:

This table here... if you will step this way...

LADY 2:

I don't see any heart!

LADY 3:

Nothing but tubes and glassware!

LADY 4:

Where's the heart?

HALOP:

Yes, Dr. Alberts! Where is the heart? You're not going to disappoint us, are you, dear doctor?

ALBERTS:

So!

WOMEN'S MURMUR DIES OUT

ALBERTS:

Now I can explain! If you will step closer and look where I point, you will see... inside of this quartz container is the isolated, extirpated chicken heart!

THE WOMEN ARE CACKLING AGAIN

LADY 2:

Oh, I see it now!...

LADY 3:

Where?...

LADY 4:

Right in there! Isn't it fascinating?...

HALOP:

My goodness! It really looks like a chicken heart!

ALBERTS:

And that is what it is! The chicken to whom this heart was a vital organ is dead already for seventeen months, but here in this apparatus, a modification of the robot heart developed by Lindbergh and Carrel, this heart has gone on an independent existence, beating away as if it were still a part of a living fowl!

LADY 2:

Can you imagine that!

LADY 3:

Of all things!

LADY 4:

Unbelievable!

ALBERTS:

Through these tubes, as you can see, a constant stream of liquid is flowing to and from the heart -- this liquid is called Hartman's solution and simulates tissue fluid.

LEWIS:

You mean it artificially replaces the blood stream?

ALBERTS:

Yah, the blood! The solution replaces the blood!

HALOP:

But, Doctor, what keeps the... that artificial blood circulating?

ALBERTS:

I will show you... here... in this case... I open it... you see?

SOUND:

BRING IN PUMPING SOUND AS OF A VERY SMALL, SYNCHRONIZED PUMP, CONTINUING BEHIND

LADIES QUIET DOWN

LEWIS:

Why, it's a tiny electronically-driven pump!

ALBERTS:

Yah, what we call a synchronized alternating pump. It drives the life-fluid through the heart at sixty beats per minute, and so the heart lives on and on, though the body it came from is long dead!

LADY 4:

But, doctor, you don't mean that this chicken heart can go on living forever!

ALBERTS:

As long as we keep the serum that is circulating through it fresh and at the proper temperature, there is no reason why this heart cannot outlive a thousand generations of all of us!

WOMEN MURMUR IN SURPRISE

ALBERTS:

In fact, if an apparatus such as this had existed in the days of, say, Napoleon, we might today stand and watch the heart of the Frenchman beating away as it did a hundred and sixty-eight years ago!

LADY 2:

Napoleon's heart!

LADY 3:

Imagine that!

HALOP:

But dear Dr. Alberts, that chicken heart, isn't really living and beating in there, is it?

ALBERTS:

Most definitely! (TO LADIES) Shhhh!

WOMEN QUIET DOWN

ALBERTS:

I will put the stethoscope against the chamber... you will hear. So! Now listen!

HEART:

LUB-DUB, LUB-DUB OF BEATING HEART, CONTINUING FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN CUT CLEAN WITH:

ALBERTS:

So! Now you have heard it!

HALOP:

Oh, I did indeed! Absolutely breathtaking!

AND OFF THE LADIES GO AGAIN

LADY 2:

Let me listen, Dr. Alberts! I want to hear it, too!...

LADY 3:

(LAUGHINGLY) No, me first! Let me hear it beat, first!

HALOP:

(LAUGHINGLY) No, no! I want to hear it again!

WOMEN GOOD NATUREDLY DEMANDING CHANCE AT STETHOSCOPE

LADY 4:

Me, Dr. Alberts!

LADY 2:

No, I asked first!

ALBERTS:

(RATHER DAZED AT SILLINESS OF MATURE WOMEN) No, no, ladies, please! One at a time!... No, no, do not push!... The apparatus - you will please be careful!... Ladies, please!... The instruments... they are delicate -- you will break -- (UP) Look out!

SOUND:

TABLE CRASHING OVER, CARRYING WITH IT APPARATUS -- GREAT CRASHING OF CROCKERY AND GLASS

SHRIEKS OF WOMEN AS APPARATUS FALLS

THERE IS A MOMENT OF SILENCE AFTER THE LAST TINKLE OF BREAKING GLASS, THEN:

ALBERTS:

(TAKES GREAT SHUDDERING BREATH)

LEWIS:

Good grief!

ALBERTS:

(HOARSELY) Broken! The experiment ruined!

HALOP:

(NERVOUSLY) W-well, Dr. Alberts, we didn't mean -- that is, speaking for the ladies -- we didn't mean to harm anything -- we ---

THE LADIES EXCITEDLY CONCUR

ALBERTS:

(INTERRUPTING, INTENSELY) Get out of here!

HALOP:

But doctor...

ALBERTS:

(MADLY) Get out of here! All of you! Get out! You have ruined months of work, you silly women, you! Months of work! See -- the apparatus broken -- the heart stopped -- everything ruined! I don't care if you are trustees' wives! Get out! You women! (FADE OUT) Get out! Get out!

GONG

SOUND:

BUZZER OF INTER-OFFICE COMMUNICATION DICTAGRAPH -- CLICK OF SWITCH

ALBERTS:

(GRUFFLY) Well?

SEC'TARY:

(FILTER AS IF OVER INTER-OFFICE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM) Mr. Lewis to see you, Doctor.

ALBERTS:

Lewis? All right, send him in, send him in!

SEC'TARY:

Yes, doctor.

SOUND:

CLICK OF SWITCH... DOOR OPENS, OFF... A COUPLE OF FOOTSTEPS

LEWIS:

(FADE IN FAST) Good morning, Dr. Alberts.

ALBERTS:

(GRUNTS) Well? What is it?

LEWIS:

It's about that symposium, doctor -- I've got to get the rest of the material.

SOUND:

DOOR CLOSE... FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

ALBERTS:

Symposium?

LEWIS:

Don't you remember? Last Friday? Your discussion on the end of the world for that Sunday feature story we're running. (POINTEDLY) You remember we were -- uh -- interrupted.

ALBERTS:

Yah! I remember it only too well! (BITTERLY) Those women!

LEWIS:

I've been thinking about it over the weekend -- I mean I've been wondering whether or not you were able to salvage anything?

ALBERTS:

Salvage? You think with so delicate an experiment as with a living heart there could be salvage? No, the experiment is ruined, ruined!

LEWIS:

It was unfortunate, wasn't it?
ALBERTS: Ach, it was a lesson! Hereafter, as long as I am head of this institute there will be no more sightseers to the laboratory! This is a place of scientific work -- not a sideshow! This is a place of ----

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS OFF, RUNNING FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

INTERN:

(FADE IN, EXCITEDLY) Doctor Alberts! Doctor Alberts!

ALBERTS:

(SHARPLY) What -- what's the matter?

INTERN:

Oh, Doctor Alberts! Come quickly! Quickly!

ALBERTS:

Quickly where? What's the matter with you, young man? Is there a fire or something?

INTERN:

It's -- it's ---

ALBERTS:

(SHARPLY) Speak up! It's what?

INTERN:

You -- you remember you sent me to clean up that mess those women left?

ALBERTS:

(GRUFFLY) Well? Well?

INTERN:

I -- I can't open the door! I -- I just can't!

ALBERTS:

If you cannot open the door, why bother me? Call the janitor! What's the matter with you?

INTERN:

No, no, Doctor Alberts, you've got to come with me! It's -- it's something else! Something terrible!

ALBERTS:

Terrible? What are you talking about?

INTERN:

It's -- I don't know what it is, sir, but -- but the corridor's full of the odor of it! And you can hear it -- you can hear it through the door! Oh, come, come, Doctor Alberts, please! Please see for yourself!

ALBERTS:

Is everyone going crazy around here? You hear what I have to put up with, Mr. Lewis? The door to the laboratory is stuck, so this man goes crazy!

INTERN:

But, Doctor Alberts ---

ALBERTS:

All right, all right, I'll go with you! I'll go with you! Come along, Lewis! Maybe in-between acting as a nursemaid to crazy women and crazy laboratory assistants, maybe I can give you the rest of the article on the end of the world! (FADE) Come along, come along.

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE, SHORT

SOUND:

FADE IN MEN WALKING DOWN CORRIDOR, CONTINUING BEHIND:

INTERN:

Do you smell it, Doctor Alberts? Do you smell it?

ALBERTS:

(SNIFFING) I -- I don't know. You, Mr. Lewis?

LEWIS:

There is a peculiar odor in here, isn't there?

ALBERTS:

(GRUNTS) Ach, there is a simple explanation for that! The women last Friday -- they knocked over the table -- the chemicals! I am so disgusted, like you say, I drove them out and locked the door!... Well, here we are! So open the door, young man!

INTERN:

But -- but I can't, sir! There's something holding the door back! (STRAINING) See? It's -- it's something soft, yielding -- (IN CLOSE) Something living...

ALBERTS:

(EXPLOSIVELY) Wha-at?

INTERN:

I'm not crazy, sir. Listen -- put your ear against the door and listen!

ALBERTS:

By golly, I --

INTERN:

Please, sir! Listen!

ALBERTS:

(ANGRILY) Yah! I'll listen!

HEART:

LUB DUB -- LUB DUB -- LUB DUB -- OF GREAT BEATING HEART -- HAVE IT MUFFLED AS IF THROUGH DOOR -- CONTINUING BEHIND

ALBERTS:

(EXCITEDLY) Lewis! Lewis! Lewis, listen! Your ear -- close to the door!

HEART:

LUB DUB -- LUB DUB OF HEART FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN DOWN AND CONTINUING BEHIND

LEWIS:

(IN AWE) By golly!

ALBERTS:

(IN TIME WITH HEART) Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.

INTERN:

Yes, Doctor Alberts! What is heaven's name - what's back there?

ALBERTS:

(SHARPLY) Come away from the door!

HEART:

HEART BEATING OUT WITH ABOVE SPEECH

LEWIS:

What is it, doc?

ALBERTS:

Hand me that fire-axe -- off the wall!

INTERN:

(FADE) Yes, sir!

LEWIS:

It -- it sounded like some sort of a pump, didn't it, sir?

ALBERTS:

(INATTENTIVELY) Eh? Wha'?

LEWIS:

I said it sound like a pump of some sort, didn't it?

ALBERTS:

Yah! Pump!

INTERN:

(IN FAST) The axe, sir -- shall I break down the door?

ALBERTS:

No, no, you fool! The hinges -- knock the pin out and the door will fall open! Here -- let me!

INTERN:

Yes, sir.

SOUND:

HAMMERING PINS OUT OF DOOR HINGES, THAT IS, METAL AGAINST METAL, CLANGING SOUND AS FIRST PIN FALLS OUT TO FLOOR

ALBERTS:

There! Now the other one...

SOUND:

METAL AGAINST METAL AGAIN -- SECOND HINGE PIN FALLING OUT

ALBERTS:

So! Now stand to one side!

LEWIS:

What are you going to do?

ALBERTS:

The edge of the axe in here -- without the hinges -- the door will fall open! One side! (STRAINING) So!... Ah!... Here it comes! Stand back!

SOUND:

DOOR FALLS OUT INTO CORRIDOR

HEART:

LUB-DUB OF HEART-- NOT TOO LOUDLY--CONTINUING BEHIND FOLLOWING SPEECHES UP TO GONG

INTERN:

(UP - IN HORROR) Doctor Alberts!

ALBERTS:

(IN AWE) Mutter in Himmel!

LEWIS:

(UNBELIEVING) Doctor! That huge piece of flesh on the floor! Where did it come from? Where?

INTERN:

Listen to it, doctor! Listen! Pulsing! Pulsing!

LEWIS:

Doctor, it is flesh, isn't it? It is flesh?

ALBERTS:

(THE AWED AND DAZED TONE IS STILL IN HIS VOICE) Yah, it is flesh.

LEWIS:

A living mass of meat as large as a chair! What is it, Doctor -- what is it?

ALBERTS:

(SLOWLY) It cannot be... and yet it is... Flesh -- pulsing -- (IN CLOSE) It is the Chicken Heart!

LEWIS:

(GASPS)

GONG

LEWIS:

(FADE IN -- PLEADING) ... But, Dr. Alberts, be reasonable, sir! At least let me release the story to my own paper - I won't color the news -- I'll just tell what happened!

ALBERTS:

(SLOWLY) And do we know what happened?

LEWIS:

Why -- why, certainly! That apparatus -- robo-heart or whatever you want to call it -- was accidentally smashed and over the weekend, in some miraculous manner, that little chicken heart no larger than my thumbnail grew into a mass of pulsing flesh a thousand times its original size!

ALBERTS:

Miraculously grew, you say... But in science there are no miracles! I want to know why it grew... Why!

LEWIS:

But let me put the story on the wire, Dr. Alberts! We've been friends -- I've never presumed on that friendship, but now -- I tell you it's a story that'll --

ALBERTS:

(INTERRUPTING) No, wait, wait! Here is a possibility!

LEWIS:

What?

ALBERTS:

When those women knocked over the apparatus -- it fell against that rack of chemicals! Is it not possible that some unknown combination of those reagents acting upon the tissue resulted in what you choose to call a "miracle" -- the super-growth of this heart, this independent existence of an organ outside it's own bodily environment?

LEWIS:

Wait a minute! You mean you think that some of those chemicals that might have fallen on the heart caused it to grow and keep on living without a bloodstream?

ALBERTS:

Yah!... It is the only possibility! But there must be no newspaper publicity, my friend! I must have time, peace, quiet to analyze, investigate! If I can discover the secret of this independent existence, it may be in my power to do wonders for medical science that --

MUMBLE OF EXCITEMENT, FAR, FAR BACK -- BEGINNING AT "TO DO WONDERS" IN ABOVE SPEECH AND CONTINUING

LEWIS:

(INTERRUPTING) Wait, Dr. Alberts! What's that noise?

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS

ALBERTS:

Wha'?

INTERN:

(IN FAST -- TERRIFICALLY EXCITED) Dr. Alberts! Come quickly! Quickly!

ALBERTS:

(SHARPLY) What's wrong?

INTERN:

(SPLUTTERING WITH EXCITEMENT) The -- the heart! The -- the heart!

ALBERTS:

Yes, the heart?

INTERN:

It's feeding!

LEWIS:

(UNBELIEVING) Feeding?

ALBERTS:

No, no, that is not possible!

INTERN:

Come on! See for yourself!

ALBERTS:

It is not possible I tell you! (FADE) It is not possible!

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE -- SHORT

SOUND:

CONTROL ROOM FADE IN OF GROUP OF PEOPLE STANDING AROUND THE ENTRANCE TO THE ROOM EXCITEDLY COMMENTING ON THE HEART WITHIN

HEART:

BEATING OF THE HUGE HEART, CONTINUES BEHIND ALL THE FOLLOWING ACTION. NOT TOO LOUD OR THIS WOULD REDUCE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE LATER SOUND EFFECTS.

ALBERTS:

Quiet, everybody! Quiet now!

BACKGROUND MURMER OUT

ALBERTS:

Stand away from the door! Now then, one of you -- you, Dr. Atkins! What is the matter?

ATKINS:

(BRITISH OR OTHER ACCENT -- CULTURED) I am not quite sure, Doctor. I was standing at the doorway here discussing this with one of the other men of the staff when suddenly out of the mass of flesh a long tentacle of protoplasm thrust itself upward!

ALBERTS:

You mean out of the heart?

ATKINS:

With my own eyes I saw it. It moved out until it reached that case of white mice there and then it -- it wrapped itself around one of the mice!

AD LIB MURMUR OF OTHERS, CONTINUING UNDER

ALBERTS:

Go on!

ATKINS:

Then -- then the tentacle retracted itself and the mass of flesh engulfed the mouse!

OTHERS REACT

ATKINS:

The moment the mouse disappeared into the tissue, the appearance of the entire mass changed completely! Look, Dr. Alberts...look for yourself!

ALBERTS:

(IN AWE) Yah! Yah, I see! The color is changing -- reddish gray --

INTERN:

Look, Dr. Alberts! The edges -- the thing is crawling!

OTHERS REACT

ALBERTS:

No, no, it is not crawling! See -- it is growing! Growing!

WOMAN:

(SCREAMS -- BACK)

ALBERTS:

Dunner wetter, what was that?

VOICE:

(BACK SLIGHTLY) One of the stenographers! Fainted!

ALBERTS:

Take her away! Everyone stand back!

INTERN:

(IN A PANIC) Dr. Alberts, what'll we do? It's already twice the size it was!

ALBERTS:

Unbelievable. Hyperplasia of tissues at so rapid a rate -- it cannot be!

LEWIS:

But how can it grow like that, Dr. Alberts! Just a mass of flesh -- what is it growing on? What?

INTERN:

Look! Look! From the center of it!

ATKINS:

It is a tentacle of flesh like before!

ALBERTS:

Yes, yes, I see! A pseudopod -- like from a simple organism! Reaching out!

LEWIS:

What... what is it reaching for?

ALBERTS:

Groping -- groping along the floor! Dr. Atkins, stand back! It might -- (UP IN GREAT ALARM) Look out!

ATKINS:

(SCREAMS -- BACK)

HEART:

PUMPING SOUND OF HEART UP SLIGHTLY

INTERN:

Atkins! It's crawling around Dr. Atkins!

ATKINS:

(HIS CRIES, BECOMING MORE AND MORE MUFFLED, CONTINUE, FADING BACK SLOWLY BEHIND:)

ALBERTS:

No, no, Lewis! Don't go near it!

LEWIS:

The axe! Where's that axe?

INTERN:

Do something, somebody! It's pulling Atkins back toward it!

ATKINS:

(CRIES OUT HOARSELY, BACK -- HIS CRIES SHUT OFF SUDDENLY)

LEWIS:

(HOARSELY) It -- it sucked him in!

HEART:

HEART BEATS SUDDENLY INCREASE THROBBINGLY

INTERN:

(UP IN GREAT HORROR) Look out! Another one! Another tentacle!

ALBERTS:

Run! Run for your lives! Run!

GONG. ALL SOUND OUT.

SOUND:

STREET BACKGROUND, UNDER SCENE ... STREET CROWD MILLING AROUND BUILDING, CONTINUES BEHIND

ST VOICE 1:

What's going on in there?

ST VOICE 2:

Stand back, you people!

ST VOICE 3:

Stand back!

ST VOICE 4:

Must be a fire!

ST VOICE 5:

Maybe they're raiding the place!

SAM:

(FADE IN) Mister Rosen! Mister Rosen! What's going on over there?

ROSEN:

Ask me! I should know?

SAM: Maybe there's a fire!

ROSEN:

(SCORNFULLY) Fire -- shmire! Ask me -- I don't know! I'm information or something? All I know is I look out my store window and all at once there's crowds around the place! (FADE) Fire -- murder -- ask me -- I don't know!

CROWD BACKGROUND NOISE UP WITH ABOVE FADE, THEN UNDER AGAIN

WOMAN:

(BUSYBODY TYPE) Officer! Officer! What's going on in there? What's going on in there, officer?

COP:

(DRAWLINGLY) Don't ask me, lady, don't ask me! Now keep movin' everybody! Keep movin'!

WOMAN:

But -- officer, I insist! You simply must tell me what's going on in there! I insist!

COP:

OK, lady, then insist! But stay back of these lines while you're insistin'!

WOMAN:

How dare you speak to me in that tone of voice! There's murder going on in that place -- I know it as sure as I'm standing here! (SCORNFULLY) Research Institute. It's a house of murder, that's what it is -- I've always known it was! (FADE) Vivisection and torture and crimes against nature.

CROWD BACKGROUND UP AGAIN FOR A FEW SECONDS AS TRANSITION, THEN CUT KNIFE CLEAN

SOUND:

DIALING OF TELEPHONE

SOUND:

FADE IN BACKGROUND SIRENS AND STREET NOISE, UNDER

LEWIS:

(THERE IS A TENSE, EXCITED NOTE TO HIS VOICE) Hello, hello, give me the chief!... Hello, chief, this is Lewis! Listen, get me a rewrite man! The thing's still growing!... No, chief, I tell you the truth! They got squads surrounding the building and nobody seems to know what to do! It's growing so fast that there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it!... I tell you, I saw it with my own eyes -- the corridors choked with living, crawling flesh!.... No, no, I'm not drunk! I'm telling you the truth! That little piece of flesh has grown until now it's jamming the building with flesh! All inside the space of an hour! (PLEADING) You've got to believe me, chief! It's the greatest news story of the generation and here you argue with me! (FADE) I tell you it's the truth, chief. You've got to believe me -- you've got to!

ALBERTS:

(FADE IN WITH ABOVE FADE OUT) -- (PLEADINGLY) But Captain, captain, you must believe me! I tell you the only hope is to burn the building to the ground at once!

CAPTAIN:

(IRISH BROGUE) (SOOTHINGLY) Now wait a minute, Doc, wait a minute. Take it easy!

ALBERTS:

I tell you, burn it! To the ground! It is the only hope -- believe me, it is! That tissue is undergoing constant mitosis! It is proliferating so rapidly that it has choked the building with living flesh! Burn, I tell you, burn!

CAPTAIN:

Now, take it easy, I tell you! Take it easy! I sent in a call for the Chief -- he'll be here any minute! All this don't make sense -- I tell you, it don't.

ALBERTS:

You dumb fool, there's no time to waste!

CAPTAIN:

(GETTING A LITTLE IRATE) Now wait a minute --

ALBERTS:

There is no minute! There is no second! This thing must be destroyed -- now -- while it is confined. Oh don't you understand! For some reason I cannot even imagine this tissue is doubling in size every hour! Do you know what that means, you dumb fool, you? In another hour it will be twice the size it is now and long before that it will break open the building with the force of its pressure!

CAPTAIN:

Eh? What's that?

ALBERTS:

Yes, yes, pressure of the growing flesh will thrust the building aside as it were paper and then it will be free in the street -- you hear me? Free in the street! And then the pseudopods -- those tentacles of protoplasm stretching out! It lives on human flesh -- you hear me -- on flesh! That building must be burned and the crowds must be kept back! Further back, I tell you -- further back or else ---

SOUND:

GROWING RUMBLE AS THE BUILDING BEGINS TO CRACK UP

CRIES OF THE CROWD ARE HEARD -- CONTINUES UNDER

CAPTAIN:

(SHARPLY) What's that? What ---

ALBERTS:

(UP) The building! See the walls -- cracking! I warned you! I warned you!

SOUND:

SHRILL OF POLICEMAN'S WHISTLE, IN CLOSE

CAPTAIN:

(SHOUTING) Get back, everybody! Get back! Everybody get back!

SOUND:

BUILDING SLOWLY CRUMBLING -- ROAR OF FALLING BRICKS, MASONRY

CRIES OF THE CROWD -- PAINT A PICTURE OF CHAOS

ALBERTS:

(IN CLOSE SO HE IS CLEARLY HEARD ABOVE THE BACKGROUND) (ALMOST TEARFULLY) I tried to warn them...

HEART:

ABOVE ALL THE BACKGROUND NOISE THE LUB DUB OF THE GREAT MASS OF MOVING FLESH IS HEARD

ALBERTS:

But now it is too late...

THROUGH THE GENERAL CROWD NOISE PIERCING SHRIEKS ARE SUDDENLY HEARD -- MEN AND WOMEN SHRIEK

ALBERTS:

Too late...the flesh is free!

GONG. ALL SOUND OUT.

ANGRY, EXCITED VOICES ARE HEARD

CR VOICE 1:

(OFF) Mr. Mayor, I demand to be heard!

CR VOICE 2:

(OFF) Listen to me, you men!

CR VOICE 3:

(OFF) We've got to keep our heads!

CR VOICE 4:

(OFF) Moving mass of flesh!

CR VOICE 5:

(OFF) We've got to do something!

SOUND:

GAVEL ON DESK 3 RAPS

MAYOR:

(ABOVE CONFUSION) Ladies! Gentlemen! Come to order please! Gentlemen!

CONFUSION DIES DOWN

MAYOR:

As mayor of this city, no one realizes more than I do the necessity of immediate action in curbing this unspeakable, unbelievable calamity which has befallen us, and I assure you --

CR VOICE 6:

(BACK SLIGHTLY) Cut the speeches, mack! That blasted thing is spreading like a forest fire! It's sucked in fifty people already! Call the governor! Get the National Guard out!

ANGRY, EXCITED VOICES RETURN

CR VOICE 7:

(OFF) Yeah, that's right!

CR VOICE 8:

(OFF) Call the governor!

CR VOICE 1:

(OFF) No, no, let's not be hasty!

CR VOICE 2:

(OFF) The National Guard!

CR VOICE 3:

(OFF) No, wait, the mayor's right!

ALBERTS:

(BACK SLIGTLY, OVER COMMENTS) No, no, wait, gentlemen! If you please, ladies! Listen to me! Listen to what I have to say!

CR VOICE 4:

(OFF) Who is he?

CR VOICE 5:

(OFF) What does he want?

ALBERTS:

Please, gentlemen! Just a word! A word!

SOUND:

GAVEL 2 RAPS

MAYOR:

Wait, people, wait! It's Dr. Alberts of the Research Institute! Let him speak! Step up here, Doctor.

MURMUR OUT

ALBERTS:

(OBVIOUSLY VERY WEARY) Good people, listen to me! It was in my Institute this horror began, and if you give me the chance, maybe I can stop it!

MAYOR:

What is it, doctor? Tell us first what the monster really is!

ALBERTS:

Yes, I will tell you. That great ever-growing mass of flesh -- it is -- or it was -- a chicken heart!

MAYOR:

(EXPLOSIVELY) Chicken heart? Are you crazy, man?

THE CROWD EXPLODES

CR VOICE 6:

(OFF) Chicken heart! He's nuts!

CR VOICE 7:

(OFF) Chicken heart a block square!

CR VOICE 8:

(OFF) Crazy.

CR VOICE 2:

(OFF) Throw him out!

CR VOICE 5:

(OFF) Chicken heart!

CR VOICE 6:

(OFF) He's crazy!

CR VOICE 7:

(OFF) Throw him out!

CR VOICE 8:

(OFF) He's cracked!

ALBERTS:

(ANGRILY ABOVE VOICES) Yes, yes, chicken heart, I tell you. Chicken heart! Listen to me, you fools! Listen! Listen!

BACKGROUND MURMUR OUT

ALBERTS:

I tell you that mass of flesh was a chicken heart, the tissue of which, for some reason, a mystery of science -- is undergoing constant, rapid, accelerating growth! With each passing hour its growth is doubling! Do you know what that means, you fools! If it is now one block in size, within thirty hours that cannibal flesh will have increased in size to one square block to the thirtieth power! In thirty hours every inch of this whole city will be crushed under that moving flesh! Within sixty hours it will have covered the entire state! Within two weeks the entire United States. You ask for the National Guard! I say call out the entire United States army! Blast this thing off the earth! Bombs -- artillery! It is the only way, gentlemen! It is the only way to save the earth!

GONG

HEART:

THUMPING HEART, ESTABLISH AND UNDER

CROWD NOISE OF PANIC-STRIKEN CROWD

SOUND:

FIRE SIRENS, UNDER

FIREMAN:

All ready, chief! Pumpers are ready -- all the hose is coupled up! We'll flood the thing with water! From all angles!

FIRECHIEF:

All right! Here's the signal!

SOUND:

GUN SHOT

FIRECHIEF:

(UP) Open 'em up! Full blast!

SOUND:

HISS - STREAMS OF WATER FROM FIRE HOSE

FIREMAN:

(UP) Chief! Look out! The flesh! It's reachin' --

FIRECHIEF:

(SCREAMS)

SHOUTS OF MEN -- FADE BACK

HEART:

HEARTBEAT UP TO PREDOMINATE

ALBERTS:

(IN CLOSE) The fools! What good is water? I told them! The only hope is - bombs... artillery!

SOUND:

QUICK FADE, ALL EFFECTS OUT CLEAN

SOUND:

CODE SIGNALS, FADE IN, UNDER

VOICE:

(RADIO EFFECT FILTER) General mobilization orders! All National guardsmen report to your armories. (FADE) All National guardsmen report to your armories! General mobilization orders...

SOUND:

CODE SIGNALS OUT

HEART:

HEART BEAT, UNDER

SOUND:

HEAVY MACHINERY -- TRACTORS, ETC. - UNDER

SHOUTS OF SOLDIERS

SOLDIER:

Battery in position, sir!

CAPTAIN:

Commence firing on the hour!

SOLDIER:

(FADE) Yes, sir!

CAPTAIN:

(SOTTO) Twenty -- fifteen -- ten -- five -- zero! Commence firing!

SOUND:

ROAR OF CANNON, FIRES INTERMITTENLY

HEART:

HEART BEAT UP SLIGHTLY

ALBERTS:

(HEARTBROKENLY) Useless! Useless! It has grown too large! And it grows too quickly! The flesh is already engulfing the guns! They came too late! Too late!

GONG

SOUND:

FADE IN AIRPLANE FLYING, CONTINUES BEHIND

LEWIS:

You all right now, Doctor Alberts?

ALBERTS:

Yah, yah! I am alright, Mr. Lewis. All right!

LEWIS:

Well, I sure am glad I located you! I stalled as long as I could -- another ten minutes and we couldn't have taken off -- that blasted protoplasm or whatever it is was sucking at the wheels by the time we left the ground!

ALBERTS:

(A VERY OLD MAN) Yah... I saw...

LEWIS:

Five thousand feet... Well, we'll cruise around up here for a few minutes and then head west.

ALBERTS:

It will go no good.

LEWIS:

Eh?

ALBERTS:

I have told you -- like I have told so many -- the flesh below -- it grows like a mathematical progression -- faster, faster -- greater, greater -- there is no hope!

LEWIS:

In the name of all that's rational, doctor, you don't mean it'll go on and on until --

ALBERTS:

Until there is no place more to go! In the Institute -- when it was small -- then there was hope! Fire would have killed it -- but now what can man do? It is like telling the sea to go back!

LEWIS:

(INTENSELY) You can't mean it! It must stop growing sometime! It must!

ALBERTS:

Look at it down there -- a gray blanket of evil covering everything! No hope I tell you! None! See how the roads are black with men and women and their children running for their lives! See how the protoplasmic gray reaches out and engulfs them? See how --

LEWIS:

(INTERRUPTING ALMOST HYSTERICALLY) Stop it! Stop talking like that! I've had all I can stand of horror! We'll get away, I tell you! We'll get away! The government -- they'll send bombing planes and blast it off the earth! Yes, that's it -- bombing planes -- poison gas!

ALBERTS:

(INEXORABLY) No hope! It will be the same as bombing the ocean! The flesh will go on and on! It is too late...

LEWIS:

No, I tell you! No!

ALBERTS:

The little men down there did not believe their doom either until it engulfed them! Oh, listen to me, Lewis -- you remember only a handful of days ago you asked me my prophecy of the end of the earth? You remember my answer? Ah, such a scholarly prophecy! -- Cessation of earth rotation -- mighty sounding astronomical theories! But now, this is reality, Lewis! The end has come for humanity -- not in the glory of interstellar combustion -- not in the peace of white cold silence -- but (IN DISGUST) with that -- creeping, grasping flesh below us! It is a joke, eh, Lewis? A great joke! The joke of the cosmos! The end of mankind -- because of a chicken's heart!

LEWIS:

No, no, we won't die! I can't die!

SOUND:

MOTOR BEGINS TO SPUTTER

LEWIS:

I'll find a safe landing somewhere! I'll find a place where...

SOUND:

MOTOR CUTS OUT COMPLETELY

LEWIS:

The motor! It's cut out!

SOUND:

INCREASING WHINE AS THE PLANE BEGINS TO FALL

LEWIS:

We're in a spin! I can't get out of it!

ALBERTS:

I told you! Doomed!

LEWIS:

(UP MADLY) No! No!

ALBERTS:

All mankind! Doomed! Doomed! And we with them!

SOUND:

WHINE BUILDING UP... BEGIN TO FADE IN GREAT BEATING OF FLESH BELOW AS IF PLANE WAS FALLING RIGHT TOWARDS THE PROTOPLASMIC MASS

LEWIS:

(UP, MADLY) We're falling right into it! Into the flesh! (SCREAMS MADLY WITH:)

SOUND:

GREAT SEMI-LIQUID SOUND AS THE AIRPLANE PLOWS INTO THE JELLY-LIKE PROTOPLASM

HEART:

BRING UP LUB-DUB OF HEART FULL SO THAT THE POWERFUL BEAT POUNDS AWAY IN FULL STRENGTH FOR A FEW HORRIBLE SECONDS. CUT CLEAN WITH:

GONG

ANNOUNCER:

Lights Out, written especially for radio by Arch Oboler, comes to you each Wednesday from our Chicago studios.