Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: X Minus One
Show: Nightfall
Date: Dec 07 1955

CAST:
ANNOUNCER
NARRATOR
THEREMON, journalist
DR. ATON, no-nonsense
SOR, cult leader
DR. SHEERIN, supercilious
LATIMER, insane
PALLET, urban
CULTIST, rural
NBC ANNCR (1 line)

NOTE: A version of this play aired 29 September 1951 on "Dimension X." This transcript includes material from that earlier broadcast in brackets.

SOUND:

HIGH-PITCHED ELECTRONIC HUM ... JOINED BY ELECTRONIC BEEPING IN AGREEMENT WITH COUNTDOWN

ANNOUNCER:

Countdown for blast-off. X minus five, four, three, two. X minus one. Fire.

SOUND:

A MOMENT'S SILENCE ... THEN ROCKET SHIP BLASTS OFF

MUSIC:

BUILDS VERTIGINOUSLY TO A CLIMAX ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future, adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand maybe worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction, presents -- (HEAVY ECHO) X Minus One!

MUSIC:

TO A CLIMAX ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight's story, "Nightfall," by Isaac Asimov.

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN UNDER

NARRATOR:

Ralph Waldo Emerson speculated, "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would man believe and adore and perceive for many generations the remembrance of the city of God?" This was philosophically interesting. But on the edge of the galaxy, [there is] a planet [which] swings on its orbit, in a cluster of six suns. These suns hang in the sky above. Never less than two shine down through the entire twenty-three-point-eight hours of the planet's day. The yellow light has burned down on the planet continuously, into the past, till the mind of man runneth not to the contrary.

MUSIC:

WISTFUL ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

Theremon was a reporter for the Saro City Chronicle. He'd covered them all, from the night police beat to politics to the sports pages -- and the City Editor wanted him to cover the biggest story of the year -- perhaps of all time. It was an interview -- a particularly difficult interview. But then, since his first days as a cub, Theremon had specialized in difficult interviews. It cost him bruises, black eyes, and broken bones. But it had gotten him an ample supply of coolness and self-confidence. He didn't expect violence, though, from an astronomer.

ATON:

You're from that newspaper? Well, you've got a lot of gall coming here!

THEREMON:

Now, look, Dr. Aton, it's only a job--

ATON:

I've read your paper. You've been riding this observatory for two months now. You've attacked me personally. I have nothing to say to you.

THEREMON:

Well, this is your chance to get your side into the paper. Look, Dr. Aton, I'll give it to you straight. Two months ago, the observatory issued a press statement that the world was coming to an end. Now, that's the same story the Cult of the Book of Revelations has been preaching. Now, when a scientist backs that up, it's news.

ATON:

Our conclusions have nothing to do with the cult. The cult is full of superstition and mysticism. We're scientists.

THEREMON:

You've got the people pretty angry.

ATON:

It doesn't matter.

THEREMON:

If I can't get the story from you, I'll have to go somewhere else.

ATON:

Go ahead!

THEREMON:

The paper can be pretty rough on someone who doesn't cooperate, Dr. Aton--

ATON:

Young man, if you're not out of the observatory within five minutes, I shall call the police! Now get out!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

The reporter walks down the long hall from the observatory. The light filters through the high, clearstory windows -- the yellow light of Gamma, the brightest of the six suns in the planet's sky. Beta is almost at zenith; its red light floods the landscape to an unusual orange. The planet's sun, Alpha, is at the antipodes, and now as Gamma sinks below the horizon, the red dwarf sun, Beta, is alone -- grimly alone. It's a short drive from the observatory to Saro City, and the red light glares from the highway. The temple of the Cult stands hewn from the solid rock of the Dormite mountains outside the city, and, in the inner courtyards, stands Sor, the priest of the Cult.

MUSIC:

TRIBAL DRUMMING UP AND UNDER--

SOUND:

[CULTISTS CHANT EERILY IN BACKGROUND]

SOR:

Woe to the unbelievers! Their souls will rot with the absence of light!

THEREMON:

Tell me, your reverence, what will happen? What are you waiting for here?

SOR:

The day! The day of the coming. It is written in the Book of Revelations, "It came to pass [that] the sun Beta was alone in the sky, and the world was shrunken and cold. And men did assemble in the public squares and highways. Their minds were troubled, and their speech confused, for the souls of men awaited the coming of the Stars. And the lip of the Cave of Darkness passed the edge of Beta. And loud were the cries of men. And there was no light on the surface of the world. And in this blackness, there appeared the Stars in countless numbers. And in that moment, the souls of men departed from them, and their abandoned bodies became even as beasts. From the Stars then reached down the heavens' flame, and where it touched, the cities of the world flamed to destruction, so that of man, and all the works of man, nought remained." So it is written!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN OUT

THEREMON:

Dr. Sheerin, you're the only scientist I could find in the city. Where is everybody?

SHEERIN:

In the Hideout.

THEREMON:

The Hideout?

SHEERIN:

Yes, but the place bored me. I wanted to be out here where things are getting hot. I want to see the "Stars" the Cultists are talking about. Besides, they don't want me at the Hideout -- I'm too scrawny to survive.

THEREMON:

What is the Hideout?

SHEERIN:

Well, we professors have managed to convince a few people that our prophesy of doom is valid. We've got about three thousand people. They're supposed to hide where the darkness and the "Stars" can't get at them. We hope they'll survive and leave records.

THEREMON:

Survive? Survive what?

SHEERIN:

[Oh, there are lots of names for it; the Cultists have their myths. ... I'm a psychologist, not an archeologist.] Well, how true it is I can't say, but the Cultists say that every two thousand and fifty years, all the suns disappear and there is a total darkness, and then they say things called "Stars" appear. Of course, men go mad-- They mix all this up with a lot religio-mystic notions. But that's the central idea.

THEREMON:

But that's impossible, isn't it? I mean, there are always at least two suns in the sky; most of the time four or five.

SHEERIN:

There aren't now. Only Beta.

THEREMON:

You mean that there is going to be worldwide darkness tomorrow, that all mankind will go violently insane? What's behind that?

SHEERIN:

Well, for one thing, the history of civilization of the world. We have located a series of cycles of civilizations comparable to our own, all of which, without exception, were destroyed by fire at the very height of their culture.

THEREMON:

But is there any scientific theory behind this which would explain it?

SHEERIN:

Well, the university observatory finished their calculations two months ago -- and tomorrow there will be an eclipse of Beta so that the planet will become dark. That eclipse comes every two thousand and forty-nine years. Darkness [comes], and maybe those mysterious "Stars" that no man has seen, and then madness -- and the end of civilization.

THEREMON:

And you [-- the scientists --] expect to live through this at the Hideout?

SHEERIN:

They plan to photograph the eclipse and leave the records. From then, the rest of mankind will know what to expect.

THEREMON:

Well, what is there in darkness to drive men mad?

SHEERIN:

Have you ever experienced darkness, young man?

THEREMON:

Well, no, but I know what it is. It's just no light.

SHEERIN:

Oh. Er, draw the curtain.

THEREMON:

Why? What for? If we had four or five suns out there, we might want to cut the light down for comfort. But with only Beta--

SHEERIN:

Ahh! That's the point. Just draw the curtain and then come here and sit down.

THEREMON:

All right.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS ... CURTAIN DRAWN ... A STEP OR TWO BACK

THEREMON:

I can't see you.

SHEERIN:

Feel your way.

THEREMON:

But I can't see you -- I can't see anything.

SHEERIN:

(BEAT) Do you like it?

THEREMON:

No, it's awful. The walls seem-- They seem to be closing in on me. (STAMMERS) I keep wanting to push them away--

SHEERIN:

All right, all right. Draw the curtain back again.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS TO CURTAIN WHICH IS DRAWN

THEREMON:

(RELIEVED, SHAKEN) Oh, the light, the light. I-- (BEAT, SIGHS) Do you have a drink?

SHEERIN:

Right here.

SOUND:

CLINK OF BOTTLE ON GLASS ... LIQUID POURS

SHEERIN:

Now, that was just a dark room.

THEREMON:

Yes, but it wasn't really so bad.

SHEERIN:

You're afraid.

THEREMON:

Just darkness could do that?

SHEERIN:

This isn't just a metaphysical theory, young man; it's promulgated from observed data. Well, come with me.

THEREMON:

Where?

SHEERIN:

The locked ward, down the corridor.

SOUND:

THEIR FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR WHICH OPENS ... FOOTSTEPS IN BG

SHEERIN:

Were you at the Saro City centennial exposition two years ago?

THEREMON:

I was overseas on assignment.

SHEERIN:

Well, you remember hearing about the "Tunnel of Mystery" that broke all records in the amusement area?

THEREMON:

Oh, yes. Wasn't there some fuss about that? The Anti-Vice Society had it shut down?

SHEERIN:

Oh, it was shut down all right, but the bluenoses had nothing to do with it. That tunnel was nothing but a mile-long passage through darkness. You rode in a little "car" and it took fifteen minutes to get through. (CHUCKLES) It was very popular -- while it lasted.

THEREMON:

Popular?

SHEERIN:

Well, there's a fascination to be frightened when it's part of a game. Absence of light is one of the instinctive human fears. People came out of that fifteen minutes of darkness shaking and half-dead with fear.

THEREMON:

Weren't there some deaths?

SHEERIN:

Oh, bad hearts, but that wasn't the big danger.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS STOP ... KEYS JINGLE ON RING

SHEERIN:

(TO HIMSELF) Now, uh, which key is this? Ah!

SOUND:

KEY INSERTED IN LOCK ... DOOR UNLOCKS AND SQUEAKS OPEN ... FOOTSTEPS IN BG

THEREMON:

Where are we going?

SHEERIN:

You'll see. No, the heart attacks were actually good for business, but there was something else. Here. I'll show you.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS TO ANOTHER DOOR WHICH OPENS

SHEERIN:

I, uh-- I want you to see somebody.

SOUND:

A FEW MORE FOOTSTEPS ... THEN OUT

SHEERIN:

(CALLS, GENTLY) Latimer? (NO ANSWER) Latimer?

LATIMER:

No, go away!

SHEERIN:

Latimer -- I want you to meet somebody. This is Mr. Theremon.

LATIMER:

No! No, go away!

THEREMON:

Hello.

LATIMER:

He's pushing me! Make him stop pushing me! Go away!

THEREMON:

(LOW, TO SHEERIN) I'm not touching him. What's wrong?

SHEERIN:

Latimer is afraid. (TO LATIMER) Aren't you?

LATIMER:

The walls -- they're falling in on me. The walls! I've got to get out. I've got to get out. Let me out!

SHEERIN:

(SOOTHING) You can't go out, Latimer. It's all right.

LATIMER:

I've got to get out! Let me out! Let me out! (WEEPS)

SHEERIN:

At sleeping period, we have to give him a shot of morphine. Otherwise, he'd bat his brains [out] against the wall.

THEREMON:

What's wrong with him?

SHEERIN:

Nothing. Nothing but fifteen minutes in the darkness of the Tunnel of Mystery.

THEREMON:

Oh, that's impossible!

SHEERIN:

One person out of ten came out of the tunnel that way. That's why we had it shut down.

THEREMON:

But why should darkness do that?

SHEERIN:

It's obvious man cannot exist without light. Longer periods of darkness would obviously be fatal. The scientific theory is that the consciousness of light is necessary for mental activity.

LATIMER:

Please, doctor, let me outside! Let me out, please! I - I can't breathe! They're pushing me! They're always pushing me! I can't stand it! (WEEPS)

SOUND:

[FOOTSTEPS AWAY ... DOOR OPEN AND CLOSE]

SHEERIN:

Well, there you are, Theremon. That's what fifteen minutes of darkness will do. Man just wasn't built to operate without light. There are always at least two suns in the sky -- most of the time more.

THEREMON:

(SOBERLY) Just fifteen minutes of darkness.

SHEERIN:

Now -- look out of that window. Imagine darkness everywhere. No light as far as you can see. Black. Everything black. And, uh, "Stars" -- whatever they are. Can you conceive it? No. Your mind wasn't built for that conception. When the real thing comes, you will go mad. Completely and permanently. There is no question of it. Tomorrow, there won't be a city left standing in the world.

THEREMON:

Why should the cities be destroyed?

SHEERIN:

(CHUCKLES) Well, if you were in darkness, what would you want more than anything else? What would it be that every instinct would call for? Light. And how would you get light?

THEREMON:

I don't know.

SHEERIN:

You'd burn something! They've got to have light, they've got to burn something. And every city in the world will go up in flames. (SARDONIC) Well, shall we go back to my office, Mr. Theremon, and, er, have another drink?

MUSIC:

MILD ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

Through the skies, the red sun Beta shines alone. The wind howls across the city. It is cold -- colder than man can remember. And, as the hour approaches, the reporter goes out and speaks to the man in the street.

SOUND:

OTHERWORLDLY TRAFFIC BACKGROUND

THEREMON:

Excuse me, I'm from the Chronicle. I'd like to talk to you.

PALLET:

Oh, a reporter, huh? Well, my name is Pallet, with two L's; remember the two L's, huh?

THEREMON:

[All right. Mr. Pallet, whats's your occupation?

PALLET:

Power technician at the north division plant.

THEREMON:

Uh huh.

PALLET:

You're making some kind of a survey, huh?

THEREMON:

Yeah. Yeah, in a way.] Where are you going now?

PALLET:

Home for supper.

THEREMON:

How about, uh--? Well, I mean, what are you going to do tonight?

PALLET:

Oh, you mean about this "Star" stuff? Look, I'll tell ya, mister. I got nothing against religion, see? But it don't stand to reason that the end of the world is going to come -- boom! -- like that. It just don't stand to reason!

THEREMON:

Have you read what the scientists say?

PALLET:

Nah, I don't read stuff like that -- only the headlines.

THEREMON:

How about the Cult?

PALLET:

Well, now, like I say, I've got nothing against religion.

THEREMON:

But you don't believe them either.

PALLET:

Ah, they've always been shouting about doom and sin. Listen, when you've been around as long as I have, you get to know the score. It's all right to preach Judgment Day is coming and all that, but just the same, I'm putting money in the bank.

THEREMON:

How about darkness?

PALLET:

About what?

THEREMON:

How would you feel if there were no light?

PALLET:

Hey, you crazy? How could there be no light?

THEREMON:

Well, suppose all the suns went down at once. Suppose everything was black.

PALLET:

That's crazy. What's the use of supposing something like that? It couldn't happen, it's crazy!

THEREMON:

[Yeah. (BEAT)] That's all. Thank you.

PALLET:

Sure, sure. Oh, look, mister -- remember, Pallet with two L's!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN OUT

THEREMON:

[Excuse me, sir, but--

CULTIST:

Huh?

THEREMON:

I represent the Chronicle and we're conducting a poll to determine public opinion with regard to the predicted end of the world. How do you feel about it?]

CULTIST:

All this talk of scientific explanation -- it's sinful, that's what it is!

THEREMON:

Are you a member of the Cult, sir?

CULTIST:

Sure I am! Been a member since I was a boy! My daddy was a member, too! I've seen the books. It's all writ down in the books.

THEREMON:

Don't you believe the scientists' explanation?

CULTIST:

Don't need it! Gonna save my immortal soul. Gonna stay on the mountaintop in a white robe, while the Stars carry me 'way to glory. Blessed be the Stars, amen!

THEREMON:

What are the "Stars"?

CULTIST:

The glory! The breath of the heavens! The spirit of the ultimate! That's what they are.

THEREMON:

The observatory has announced that it intends to take pictures of the "Stars."

CULTIST:

Blasphemy! I sold my house -- I gave all my money to the poor -- won't need it any more! I'm goin' to heaven with the Stars! Glory! Glory! Goin' with the Stars!

MUSIC:

SOMBER TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

The reporter checks the stock exchange, the stores -- business at a standstill. Doesn't pay to buy anything today -- not if the world is going to end tomorrow. There are predictions of economic collapse in the financial section, layoffs at the factories on the edge of the city. And through the streets, the people will mill and turn, unsure, crying in fear or shouting with bravado. The story isn't here in the city, and so, as the hour approaches, the reporter goes again to the observatory, high in the hills.

THEREMON:

Now, look, Dr. Aton, if you are right -- if the world is going to be destroyed -- what is the difference if I stay here and observe and take notes?

ATON:

Nothing, I suppose. You will be in the way; we have work to do.

THEREMON:

If I stay out of the way?

SHEERIN:

(APPROACHES, ALMOST MERRY) Hello! Hello! Oooh, this place is like a morgue. It's freezing outside. The wind is enough to hang icicles on your nose. Beta doesn't seem to give any heat at all, the distance it is.

ATON:

Why aren't you in the Hideout, Sheerin?

SHEERIN:

Me? Ha! I'm part of the race that isn't worth perpetuating. Er, who's got a bottle?

ATON:

No alcohol today. It'd be too easy to get my men drunk; I can't afford to tempt them. All right, Theremon, you can stay. Keep out of the way.

THEREMON:

Thank you, doctor.

ATON:

(TO TECHNICIANS) Well, gentlemen, I think it's time we took our positions. The observatory dome is up these stairs.

THEREMON:

After you, doctor--

SOR:

(BLOODCURDLING SCREAM) Ahhhhhhhh!

SOUND:

CRASH! OF GLASS SHATTERING

THEREMON:

What is that?!

ATON:

Open the dome, quick!

SOUND:

CLANKING! OF DOME OPENED

THEREMON:

What is it?

ATON:

It's the plates! The photographic plates! They're all smashed!

SOR:

(LAUGHS MANIACALLY)

SHEERIN:

There he is! A Cultist!

ATON:

He's going for the telescope! After him!

SOUND:

QUICK FOOTSTEPS ... BRIEF SCUFFLE DURING FOLLOWING--

THEREMON:

(WITH EFFORT) All right, I've got him!

SOR:

Let go!

ATON:

No!

SOR:

(WILDLY) Let go! Must be destroyed! It must be!

SOUND:

SOR PUSHED TO FLOOR ... SCUFFLE ENDS

ATON:

It's all right. He didn't harm anything. Let him up.

THEREMON:

That's the high priest -- I was talking to him yesterday.

ATON:

(TO SOR) All right -- what do you want?

SOR:

Nothing that you would give me of your own free will.

ATON:

I made a bargain with the Cult -- to give me certain data that you had. In return, I promised to prove the essential truth of the creed.

SOR:

There was no need to prove that! It stands proven by the Book of Revelations!

ATON:

I offered scientific backing for you believers.

SOR:

You made of the darkness and the Stars a natural phenomenon -- and removed all its real significance. That was blasphemy!

ATON:

The facts exist.

SOR:

Your facts are a fraud and a delusion!

ATON:

How do you know?

SOR:

I know!

ATON:

I suppose you think in trying to warn the world against the menace of madness, we are placing souls in jeopardy, huh? Well, we haven't succeeded, if that makes you feel better.

SOR:

Your devilish instruments must be destroyed! We obey the will of the Stars!

ATON:

Someone call the police in Saro City.

SHEERIN:

There's no time for that -- let me handle this. The eclipse is only a few minutes away. (TO SOR) Look, you! Will you give your word of honor to cause no trouble?

SOR:

I will not!

SHEERIN:

Listen! Just as soon as the eclipse starts, we're going to take you and put you in a closet with the door closed and you will stay there! Then you won't see the darkness -- and you won't see the Stars! And that means the loss of your immortal soul, according to the Cult. All right. Will you give your word of honor?

SOR:

(RELUCTANTLY) You have it. You will all be damned for your deeds of today!

THEREMON:

Look! Look at Beta!

ATON:

The eclipse has started -- you can see the blackness against Beta! (MOVING OFF, TO TECHNICIANS) Get busy on those cameras! Check the exposures very carefully.

SHEERIN:

You're shaking, Mr. Theremon.

THEREMON:

Yes, I don't feel very well.

SHEERIN:

You're not losing your nerve?

THEREMON:

No, no -- I'm just not used to it.

SHEERIN:

You could probably make the Hideout.

THEREMON:

I have been assigned to cover a story; I intend to cover it!

SHEERIN:

Ohhh? Professional honor?

THEREMON:

Yes!

SOR:

Yes! (CHANTS INCOMPREHENSIBLY, OMINOUSLY) A-LA SO-FAN-IT RAD-ROCK! A-LA SO-FAN-IT-- (CONTINUES BRIEFLY IN BG, FADES OUT BY [X])

THEREMON:

What is that?

SHEERIN:

The Cultist. That's the Book of Revelations.

THEREMON:

I don't understand it.

SHEERIN:

He is chanting some old-cycle language. The Book of Revelations was originally written in it. There are probably two million people in Saro City who are trying to join the Cult. One gigantic revival! [X]

THEREMON:

How do the Cultists manage to keep the Book of Revelations going from cycle to cycle if everyone goes mad? Who wrote the book?

SHEERIN:

There are some people who don't see the Stars -- the blind; those who drink themselves into a stupor; and children, to whom the world as a whole is too new and too strange for them to be frightened at stars and darkness. They would have memories -- and that, combined with the confused, incoherent babbling of the mad, form the basis for the Book of Revelations. Oh, the Cult will be riding high down there in the city! (CHUCKLES) I hope they make the most of it.

ATON:

(APPROACHES, SHAKEN) Dr. Sheerin, I - I've just heard from the Hideout on the private line--

SHEERIN:

Oh? They're in trouble?

ATON:

They are safe, but the city is a shambles. You have no idea.

SHEERIN:

Well, it'll get worse. What are you shaking about, Dr. Aton? How do you feel?

ATON:

You don't understand. The Cultists are rousing the people to storm the observatory -- promising them immediate entrance into grace. Promising them salvation -- promising them anything.

SHEERIN:

How long till the total eclipse?

ATON:

An hour. [(MOVING OFF) I'm going to check those cameras.]

SHEERIN:

(MUSES) Well, it's a gamble. It'll take time to get a mob out here. If the darkness comes first, we're all right. (LOW) Oh, look at Beta.

THEREMON:

It's cut in half. Half of it is black!

SHEERIN:

Yes, it's getting darker. An interesting phenomenon. (UNCOMFORTABLE) Oh, my. My collar is suddenly tight. Are you having any difficulty in breathing?

THEREMON:

No. No, why?

SHEERIN:

Difficulty in breathing is one of the first symptoms. We have experimented.

THEREMON:

(STAMMERS) I'm cold. It seems to be getting colder.

SHEERIN:

Yes, so we'd better keep our minds on something else. (CHANGES THE SUBJECT) One of the astronomers has a theory about the Stars. He thinks they may be suns that are too far away to see in the light. He developed a fantasy about a planet revolving around one sun. (CHUCKLES) It's a mathematical possibility. Of course, there couldn't be any life. Part of the planet would always be dark and without light. Well, it's obvious -- without light, there can't be any life.

ATON:

(APPROACHES) It's time for the artificial light. We can't read the instruments.

THEREMON:

Artificial light?

SHEERIN:

One of the researchers at the university worked it out. It's animal grease, packed around a wick. Here, I'll light one [with this spark].

SOUND:

TORCH IS LIT

THEREMON:

(BEAT) Why, it's beautiful! Yellow light. After four hours of red. It's beautiful! Light! Light!

MUSIC:

SHIMMERING ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

The dome is quiet. The priest, in his yellow robe, sways slowly as his lips move in the ancient tongue. Over and over, he whispers the invocation to the Stars. The technicians hunch over the instruments, and the sky gradually turns a horrible deep-purple red, and the air grows denser. Dusk, like a palpable entity, enters the room, and the dancing circle of yellow light about the torches etches itself into ever-sharper distinction against the ever-gathering grayness beyond. Outside, Beta is a mere smoldering splinter, taking a last look at the world. The western horizon, in the direction of the city, is lost in darkness and, along the highway to the observatory, surges a menacing, shadowy mass.

SOUND:

BUZZ OF DISTANT CROWD GROWING CLOSER

ATON:

The mob from the city -- they're coming.

SHEERIN:

How long till total eclipse?

ATON:

Fifteen minutes. But they'll be here in five.

SHEERIN:

We'll hold them off. Come on, Theremon! Downstairs!

THEREMON:

(STAMMERS) But there's no light down there!

SHEERIN:

We have to block the door! Come on!

THEREMON:

I can't--! I can't breathe! I can't go down there!

SHEERIN:

Take a torch. We'll take light with us. Come on!

MUSIC:

ACCENT, FOR A TRANSITION ... THEN OUT

SHEERIN:

Aton?! Aton?!

ATON:

I'm here. Did you bar the door?

SHEERIN:

They won't get in.

ATON:

(TO TECHNICIANS) All right now, everybody! One minute till totality! One minute! Just before totality, I'm changing the plate. That will leave one of you for each camera. You know all about times of exposure. Now, remember, don't try to look for good shots. And if you feel yourself going, get away from the camera.

THEREMON:

(NERVOUS) It's dark. It's getting dark! Sheerin? Sheerin, where are you? I can't see you, Sheerin.

SHEERIN:

I'm right here.

ATON:

Thirty seconds.

SOR:

(A SAVAGE CRY) Aaaaah!

SHEERIN:

Look out! The priest!

SOUND:

CRASH! AS GLASS SHATTERS

THEREMON:

I can't see him!

SOR:

And the wicked shall perish and the souls of the true believers shall be transported in glory to the Stars!

SHEERIN:

You can see him against the torch.

ATON:

Don't let him get to the telescope!

SOR:

(LOUD) From the Stars there reached down the Heavenly Flame, and where it touched, the cities of the world flamed to utter destruction!

ATON:

Grab him! Grab him!

SOUND:

SCUFFLE DURING FOLLOWING--

SOR:

You shall not blaspheme! The world must be destroyed by the Stars! It must be! Let me go!

ATON:

I'll take care of him!

SOR:

The Stars! The Stars--!

SOUND:

DULL THUMPS! AS SOR IS HIT ON THE HEAD ... HIS BODY FALLS TO THE FLOOR ... BUZZ OF CROWD OUTSIDE FILLS A PAUSE

ATON:

(QUIETLY) Five seconds till totality. Four - three - two - one.

MUSIC:

BIG ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

The sky is black, and through it shine the stars. Thirty thousand minute suns shine down in a soul-searing splendor. It is more frightening in its awful indifference than the bitter wind that shivers across the horrible, cold, bleak world.

SOUND:

QUIET MURMUR OF MOB GROWING LOUDER AND MORE CHAOTIC DURING FOLLOWING DIALOGUE WHICH STARTS SLOW AND GROWS FASTER--

THEREMON:

(IN AWE) The stars. The stars. The stars.

SOR:

(INSANE SCREAM) Aaaaahh!

SHEERIN:

It's dark - dark - dark.

THEREMON:

The walls -- the walls are coming in on me. They're coming in. Light. Light. Light!

ATON:

Darkness - forever - and ever.

THEREMON:

Light!

ATON:

And ever.

THEREMON:

Light!

ATON:

And the walls--

THEREMON:

Light!

ATON:

They're breaking in. We did not know.

THEREMON:

Light!

ATON:

We did not know!

THEREMON:

Light!

ATON:

We did not know!

THEREMON:

Light!

SOUND:

FRENZIED CROWD HITS A PEAK

MUSIC:

TOPS THE CROWD ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

On the horizon in the direction of the city, a crimson glow begins growing. A thousand fires strengthen in brightness that is not the glow of the sun. A million fires, as a world, mad in the darkness, screams in terror for the light. The night has come again.

MUSIC:

UP ... FOR A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction.

MUSIC:

CLOSING THEME ... IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, by transcription, "X Minus One" has brought you "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in the cast were Wendell Holmes, John Larkin, Santos Ortega, Mercer McLeod, Alan Collins, Bob Hastings, and Roy Fant. Your narrator was Floyd Mack. Fred Collins speaking. "X Minus One" was directed by Daniel Sutter and is an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

NBC ANNCR:

It's groomed for your interests -- WEEKDAY, NBC Radio.

MUSIC:

NBC CHIMES