Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: X Minus One
Show: The Haunted Corpse
Date: Jul 25 1957

CAST:

The NBC Team:
ANNOUNCER
MAN
WOMAN
2ND ANNCR
DOROTHY OLSEN

The Drama:
WINDERMERE, ambitious, persnickety
McCABE, thick Southern accent
DR. HORN, cantankerous, with a precise speech pattern
VAN PELT
DOG
CHICKEN

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 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 Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine, presents -- (HEAVY ECHO) X Minus One!

MUSIC:

TO A CLIMAX ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, "The Haunted Corpse" by Frederik Pohl. But, first, hear this!

MUSIC:

COMMERCIAL JINGLE ... ACCOMPANIES SINGERS

MAN:

(SINGS) Whenever you want things to be just right,
Be it here or there, or day or night ...

WOMAN:

(SINGS) You make it Pabst!
'Cause Pabst makes it -- per-fect!

2ND ANNCR:

Yes, Pabst--!

SOUND:

BEER CAN OPENED

2ND ANNCR:

--makes it perfect!

SOUND:

BEER POURED

2ND ANNCR:

Just as we always have since 1844. So, next time, you make it Pabst -- 'cause Pabst makes it perfect! America's blue-ribbon beer from the Pabst Brewing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

WOMAN:

(SINGS) Yes, Pabst makes it -- per-fect!

MUSIC:

JINGLE ENDS ... THEN FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Now, "X Minus One" and the story of -- "The Haunted Corpse."

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) We moved in at oh-eight-hundred. That's pretty good time considering that Van Pelt turned up at the Pentagon on Thursday and it took him till Monday morning to go in and see the general. By Tuesday, I had a task force of a hundred and thirty-five men bivouacked around the old man's place. Corporal McCabe, my orderly, reported "mission accomplished." [X]

McCABE:

Well, Colonel, there's a whole company dug in down the road right yonder and we'uns is all set up right here like you done ordered. We got a covey of them recon cars from the cavalry roamin' like a passel of junebugs quarterin' a handkerchief.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) McCabe isn't very bright, but he's loyal. Well, about nine in the morning, the old man woke up. I suppose the firing at the auxiliary pistol range I set up got him out of bed. [X]

SOUND:

TRUCK ENGINES ... THEN IN BG

DR. HORN:

Get out of here! Go on, you! Get those trucks off my lawn! Get out!

WINDERMERE:

Dr. Horn?!

DR. HORN:

Oh, what is this? The Boy Scout Jamboree? Are you the scout master?

WINDERMERE:

Dr. Horn, I am Lieutenant Colonel Windermere, sir. My orders are to establish a security cordon about your laboratory.

DR. HORN:

A what?

WINDERMERE:

Here you are, sir; my copy of your orders.

DR. HORN:

What the devil is this nonsense?

WINDERMERE:

You will see they are signed by General Follansbee himself.

DR. HORN:

(REALIZES) I know, I know. That sniveling rat Van Pelt. He went to the army, is that it? That mountainous, ungrateful tub of rancid lard went crawling into Washington and ratted to some tin soldier.

WINDERMERE:

Sir, General Follansbee is not a tin soldier.

DR. HORN:

Is that it? Did Dick Van Pelt come to you with some cock-and-bull story? That chicken-livered, worm-eatin', misbegotten offspring of a--

WINDERMERE:

Dr. Horn, the general asked me to give you his personal assurance that we will not interfere in your work here. But I'm sure you understand the importance of security.

DR. HORN:

Now, you listen to me, the Horn Effect is my personal property, not the government's or the army's. What is this, creeping socialism?

WINDERMERE:

(CAUTIONS) Sir! Security! My orderly isn't cleared.

McCABE:

Oh, that don't make no never mind Colonel. I don't rightly grasp what he's sayin' nohow.

WINDERMERE:

McCabe, report to my tent.

McCABE:

(MOVING OFF, DISAPPOINTED) Aw, just when it's gettin' interesting.

WINDERMERE:

(CLEARS THROAT) Now, Dr. Horn. I want you to know that I'm here to help you. If there's anything you want, just ask me. If you wanna go into town, that can be arranged. Of course, you'd better give us twenty-four hour notice so we can clear the streets and check out all the--

DR. HORN:

Young man!

WINDERMERE:

Yes, sir?

DR. HORN:

You may go to the devil.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) Of course, he went in to call the Pentagon and protest. He had a lot of spirit for an old civilian of about seventy-five. [X]

DR. HORN:

(FILTER) Hello? Hello? This is Dr. Eric Horn. I want to protest an invasion of my privacy!

WINDERMERE:

(LOW, DISGUISING HIS VOICE SLIGHTLY) Of course, Dr. Horn, I understand.

DR. HORN:

(FILTER) There's an officious young cub scout out at my place making a pest of himself. A lieutenant something.

WINDERMERE:

(REVEALING HIMSELF, GRANDLY) Lieutenant Colonel Windermere.

DR. HORN:

(FILTER, OUTRAGED) But I called Washington!

WINDERMERE:

Yes, sir. But our intercept monitor put the call through to me. We'll take care of any outside calls you wish to make.

DR. HORN:

(FILTER) Of all the insufferable--!

SOUND:

RECEIVER DOWN HARD

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) At about oh-six-hundred the next morning, I ran a surprise full-scale inspection and simulated infiltration. [X]

SOUND:

VOLLEY OF MACHINE GUN FIRE

McCABE:

(SHOUTS) Hey, look out! You trigger-happy idjits! It's me, McCabe! I'm just simulated! You hear?!

SOUND:

ANOTHER VOLLEY OF MACHINE GUN FIRE

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES, WITH A CHUCKLE) Fortunately, he was only grazed. The wire-stringing detail worked all night and we had surrounded the old Victorian house with triple-strand electrified barbed wire, with guard towers every fifty feet. At fourteen hundred, I paid a call on Dr. Horn. [X]

DR. HORN:

(UNHAPPY) What are you doing here?

WINDERMERE:

Good afternoon, Dr. Horn, I came in for your report.

DR. HORN:

My what?

WINDERMERE:

Your daily progress report. It's in my orders. Paragraph eight. Just carry on, sir. Corporal McCabe will take your words down. (ASIDE) Oh, his clearance came through last night. (BRIGHTLY) You have a method for electronically killing a man without touching him.

DR. HORN:

(DISGUSTED) Killing, lieutenant? Will you tell me what in the sweet name of Heaven did I say that gave you that particularly stupid notion? But I understand; you think this is a weapon.

WINDERMERE:

Of course, sir.

DR. HORN:

Of course. (IRONIC) My machine renders humans into corpses. (UNIRONIC) A chipped flint will also do that. Look, you simpleton, don't you realize what my machine can do? It can separate that something which, added to a body, produces a man; and subtracted, leaves a corpse. I can separate the two things without destroying them. You understand that I can take the ghost of life out of a body and keep it unharmed? Try to understand that, you pig-headed, mule-eared, rabbit-faced--!

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

You're listening to "The Haunted Corpse," tonight's attraction on "X Minus One."

You know, the property value of your home depends on the well-being of your community and your neighborhood; on things like good lighting for your streets, accessible parks and playgrounds, and cleaning up slums. And what others are doing, you can do. In Michigan, a city group launched "Operation: Bootstrap" to rehabilitate houses, clean up slums, and interest everyone in better living standards. In Pennsylvania, a local real estate board surveyed every property in town -- got five hundred improved and fifty hopeless slums torn down. So help clean up slums and keep up your own home as well. To help keep your community sound get into ACTION. ACTION is a national organization designed to help you protect the well-being of your community. For free information on your particular problem, write to ACTION, Box Twenty, Radio City Station, New York Twenty, New York.

MUSIC:

INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Now, back to "X Minus One" and -- "The Haunted Corpse."

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) I terminated the interview and went back to headquarters to prepare my situation analysis. Van Pelt, all three hundred pounds of him, was waiting for me. He was eating a can of C-ration with a knife. [X]

VAN PELT:

He's perfectly sane, colonel, but he's dangerous. Very dangerous. You've gotta protect me absolutely.

WINDERMERE:

Van Pelt, I want the straight dope on Horn. Now, what is this "ghost" business?

VAN PELT:

Oh, that. That. (CHUCKLES) That's just his way of putting it. You see, er-- Ooh, uh, care to join me in a can of beans?

WINDERMERE:

No, thank you.

VAN PELT:

Well, there's a difference between a living man and a dead man, and that difference is what Dr. Horn whimsically calls a ghost. Call it life, plus intelligence, plus soul. If there is such a word in your lexicon, colonel.

WINDERMERE:

You mean his machine - conjures up ghosts?

VAN PELT:

No, no, no, colonel. Dr. Horn is an impossible old vulture, but he's not a fakir. Horn can drain the essence of life from a body and store it. Or, if he wishes, he can replace them in another body. Uh, would you mind handing me the can opener? This looks interesting. Macaroni and beef -- supper ration!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) Well, so he had a machine that could take a mind out of one body and put it in another body? Well, why didn't he say so straightforwardly instead of beating around the bush like a civilian? Of course, he was a civilian, which might explain it. Next morning, I went to the laboratory with Corporal McCabe and insisted on a demonstration. [X]

DR. HORN:

All right, this way, gentlemen.

WINDERMERE:

(CORRECTS HIM) Please -- Corporal McCabe is an enlisted man.

SOUND:

DOG BARKS AND CHICKEN SQUAWKS IN AGREEMENT WITH--

DR. HORN:

At this pole, we have a cocker spaniel. And over here, a Rhode Island red.

McCABE:

That's a right perky-lookin' chicken, doc.

DR. HORN:

If you will kindly stay clear of the terminal areas, I will activate the field.

SOUND:

CLICKS! ... PULSE! OF FIELD

WINDERMERE:

What's happening?

DR. HORN:

The field is vibrating at the cycloid rate set on the crystals.

SOUND:

RING! OF BELL

DR. HORN:

All right, it's ready for discharge. Now--

SOUND:

ZZZZZZ! OF ELECTRICITY ... THEN OUT

WINDERMERE:

(BEAT) Well?

DR. HORN:

Watch. (CALLS, TO CHICKEN) Here, Rover. Here, boy, here boy.

McCABE:

Hey, that ain't no hound! That's the chicken!

DR. HORN:

I know. (CALLS, TO CHICKEN) Here, Rover.

SOUND:

CHICKEN SQUAWKS

McCABE:

Well, I'll be tickled for an eel. That lil' ol' chicken is tryin' to wag its tail!

DR. HORN:

And over here. (CALLS, TO DOG) Here, chick chick chick chick chickee! Here, chick chick chick chick chick!

SOUND:

DOG BARKS

McCABE:

Well, doggone. I never did see the like of that. A flop-eared, honest-to-Pete dog tryin' to peck corn!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) I had a private conference with the old man later. Under section K of my security regulations, I moved on my own initiative. [X]

DR. HORN:

Well, lieutenant?

WINDERMERE:

(CORRECTS HIM) Lieutenant Colonel. There is a slight difference.

DR. HORN:

Well?

WINDERMERE:

Now, can you do this with people?

DR. HORN:

Indeed, I can. But the silly laws covering these things-- They won't let me! I've tried. Imagine a simple exchange -- a man dying of terminal cancer and a feeble-minded youth. Put the sound mind into the sound body and let the decayed parts rot together. But will they let me? No, no!

WINDERMERE:

You've never tried the machine on people?

DR. HORN:

No. But you're here. A military man, hmm? Very brave. All I need is a volunteer. That coward Van Pelt refused. That's why he sneaked off to you. But a brave soldier like you--

WINDERMERE:

Negative, sir. Negative.

DR. HORN:

But, lieutenant--

WINDERMERE:

Negative, sir. And, besides, I am not a lieutenant. I am a field-grade officer. I don't believe you appreciate the investment the service has made in my training. (LOW, CONSPIRATORIAL) However, if you need volunteers, the army has a way of obtaining volunteers, sir. We'll see what we can do.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) Actually, it was easy. First, there was a boy from Maine awaiting court-martial on an AWOL charge. Second, he volunteered when I pointed out he could get up to a year at hard labor. And then McCabe. [X]

McCABE:

Oh, no, Colonel, sir, I ain't the volunteerin' type.

WINDERMERE:

(CHUCKLES) Well, McCabe, I have been asked to recommend a noncom for infantry assignment in the Aleutian Islands.

McCABE:

Infantry?

WINDERMERE:

Yes! Advance rifle platoon scout.

McCABE:

The - the - the - the Aleutians?

WINDERMERE:

Mmmm. In the winter.

McCABE:

Colonel, sir, I begs to report you have found a volunteer. Namely, I.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) Dr. Horn had arranged the terminus of the machine poles to be tapped into metal helmets which were adjusted on the heads of the two men. [X]

McCABE:

This here reminds me of playin' left tackle.

DR. HORN:

Ready, lieutenant?

WINDERMERE:

I-- Ready.

McCABE:

(RELUCTANT) Colonel, sir? Maybe - maybe I better not try this. Well, I mean, I canceled my GI Insurance.

WINDERMERE:

(POINTEDLY) The - Aleutians?

McCABE:

(RELENTS) Yes, sir, colonel, sir. Well, goodbye.

SOUND:

PULSE! OF FORCE FIELD ... ZZZZZZ! OF ELECTRICITY

MUSIC:

FOR A TRANSFERENCE OF SOULS ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) The test was an anticlimax. It worked. McCabe -- that is, McCabe's body -- reported himself as Private Ethan Coffin in a broad Down East dialect. I had Horn switch them back and then I went back to my tent and put through a call -- crash priority! [X]

McCABE:

General Follansbee on the scrambler circuit, colonel, sir.

WINDERMERE:

All right. Now, leave, McCabe. This is Top Secret!

McCABE:

(MOVING OFF) They don't never tell me nothin'. I swear it's worse than grade school.

WINDERMERE:

(INTO PHONE) Now, general--

VAN PELT:

(APPROACHES, EXCITED) Colonel?! Colonel?!

WINDERMERE:

Van Pelt! What's the idea of barging in? I'm making a Top Secret call!

VAN PELT:

(HORRIFIED) You didn't let Horn make his test?! You didn't--?!

WINDERMERE:

Now, out, Van Pelt! Out!

VAN PELT:

But that's all he's been waiting for! You gotta listen to me--!

WINDERMERE:

(CALLS) McCabe!

McCABE:

(OFF) Yes, sir?

VAN PELT:

But, colonel--!

WINDERMERE:

(TO McCABE) Escort Mr. Van Pelt out.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES, SIGHS) I was floating on a cloud of pure joy. I could see my eagles within my grasp. Maybe even a full star. [X] I told the general my plan.

SOUND:

RATTLE! OF PHONE CRADLE

WINDERMERE:

(INTO PHONE) Uh, are you still there, sir? ... Oh. Well-- You see, we use the device for intelligence. Suppose someone way up top in their government should visit the United States. We switch him! Put our own man in his body, you see? Or in wartime, take a few prisoners and put our men inside their bodies. ... Yes, sir. ... Yes, sir! I can be available for a staff meeting at oh-nine-hundred! ... Yes, sir!

SOUND:

PHONE RECEIVER DOWN

WINDERMERE:

(CHUCKLES, DREAMILY, TO HIMSELF) "General Windermere." "Lieutenant General Windermere." (CHUCKLES) Oh, why not? "General of the Armies Windermere--"

McCABE:

Colonel, sir?

WINDERMERE:

Oh. What is it, McCabe?

McCABE:

Er, that Mr. Van Pelt--

WINDERMERE:

Listen, McCabe, next time I'm on the Top Secret scrambler to the Pentagon, don't you dare let anybody into the command tent!

McCABE:

Uh, no, sir, colonel, sir. But this here Van Pelt--

WINDERMERE:

I don't want to hear about him. Now, let him cool his heels a while.

McCABE:

Well, he ain't. That is, he left.

WINDERMERE:

Good.

McCABE:

But he carried on somethin' frightful. He kept sayin' Mr. Horn wanted to live forever.

WINDERMERE:

What?

McCABE:

Screwy, ain't it? That's what he said. He said all Horn was waitin' on was to make a test on human beings. He said that he's gonna grab the first man he runs into and steal his body. I think he was drunk or somethin'.

WINDERMERE:

McCabe! Call a condition red alert!

McCABE:

Well, what for?

WINDERMERE:

Don't argue! Oh, never mind. You go up to the laboratory and take Dr. Horn into custody. I'll give the alert. Now, move!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) I could see it all immediately. I grabbed my sidearm and buckled it on. Then I threw the switch that signaled a red alert throughout the unit.

SOUND:

BUZZ ALARM

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) Just what you'd expect from a selfish civilian like Horn. He'd take an invention like this and use it to steal other people's bodies to prolong his own nearly senile existence in a younger body. And if that happened, there goes my general's star. Because he'd surely smash the machine and we'd never be able to trace him or switch him back and we wouldn't know which body he stole.

I was held up at the inner perimeter for five precious minutes while some idiot insisted on a password! I just happened to forget it, although I'd issued it in the morning. Luckily, while I was swearing at him, I accidentally hit the right combination and he let me through.

Van Pelt had gone into the laboratory -- I knew that -- probably to try to stop the old man. But the effect would be to supply him with a body! He'd have to swap immediately -- he couldn't take the chance of a heart attack. I ran into the laboratory, my sidearm drawn!

SOUND:

WINDERMERE'S RUNNING FOOTSTEPS

WINDERMERE:

(CALLS) Horn?! Dr. Horn?!

SOUND: WINDERMERE STUMBLES, FALLS

WINDERMERE:

(GRUNTS, NARRATES) I tripped over a human body, still warm -- Dr. Horn, his cast-off cocoon -- abandoned! And then in front of me I saw him -- Van Pelt! [X]

VAN PELT:

Too late! Too late!

WINDERMERE:

Now wait, listen! (SEES McCABE) Oh, McCabe, what happened to you?

McCABE:

(GROANS)

WINDERMERE:

He slugged ya, did he?

VAN PELT:

Too late!

SOUND:

SMASH! OF METAL AGAINST METAL ... CONTINUES IN BG

WINDERMERE:

Now, wait. Don't smash the machine. Van Pelt, I know it's really you, Dr. Horn, in Van Pelt's body. Now, put down that gun.

VAN PELT:

I'll smash it! Smash it!

WINDERMERE:

Stop, don't wreck the machine! Listen, Dr. Horn! I'll help you. I'll see you get a good, healthy body as long as you want it! Dr. Horn, think of the safety of our country! Think of security!

VAN PELT:

No, no, no! I'm not Doctor--!

SOUND:

GUNSHOT! ... SMASHING STOPS

VAN PELT:

(GROANS IN PAIN)

WINDERMERE:

Who--? Who shot that--? McCabe, put that pistol away, ya fool!

SOUND:

WINDERMERE'S HURRIED FOOTSTEPS TO VAN PELT'S BODY

WINDERMERE:

Oh! Horn? Dr. Horn, speak to me. Now, I know it's you in Van Pelt's body. Now, speak to me, Dr. Horn. (STAMMERS, SIGHS) Oh, he's dead. McCabe, you simple-minded--! Why did ya kill him? Oh, everything is gone -- my general's star, everything. (SHARP) All right, McCabe, report to your quarters. You'll get a court martial that'll make your hair curl!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

WINDERMERE:

(NARRATES) I sat there in the wrecked laboratory and I almost cried. Everything gone -- the machine, the brilliant mind that knew its secret. I looked at the corpse of Van Pelt that held the mind of Dr. Horn before that idiot McCabe had put a bullet through the brain and killed both. I can almost feel cheerful, as I thought of the court martial to come. It was at that moment that Sergeant O'Hare came in to tell me that McCabe wanted me on the telephone. I picked it up and waited to hear the miserable rat crawl and plead for mercy. [X]

McCABE:

(FILTER) Colonel, sir, this here's Corporal McCabe.

WINDERMERE:

McCabe, there is no use pleading for mercy. I trust you have managed to find your quarters. You're under arrest.

McCABE:

(FILTER, NO MORE SOUTHERN ACCENT) That's what I thought. I don't think I'll stay for the court-martial, lieutenant. They bore me.

WINDERMERE:

McCabe? (STAMMERS) But the voice. (REALIZES) Dr. Horn!

McCABE:

Precisely, lieutenant. Precisely. (LAUGHS) Goodbye now. (SINGS) "If a body need a body comin' through the--" (LAUGHS, SPEAKS) Goodbye, lieutenant. Thanks for the body!

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

Fred Collins again. And I'll have another word about "X Minus One" in a moment.

DOROTHY:

Have you ever asked yourself what this country's most important natural resource is? I'm Dorothy Olsen, NBC Bandstand's Singing Schoolteacher. Our most important resource? Well, you might consider it our mineral deposits or our tremendous sources of water power. Or maybe just our great forests. Well, these are all very important natural resources, but there's one resource that's more important than all these combined -- our children. Don't neglect them or their educational facilities. Poor schools breed inadequate citizens for tomorrow. And, another thing, keep your youngsters in tip-top shape so that they won't miss important school dates. Dress them against the weather so they won't catch needless winter colds. Check their wardrobe as they go back to school this fall to be sure that they have plenty of the right kind of clothing. Remember, our children are this nation's most important natural resource. It's your job to protect their future
as they go back to school this fall.

ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine.

MUSIC:

CLOSING THEME SNEAKS IN UNDER FOLLOWING--

ANNOUNCER:

"X Minus One" has brought you "The Haunted Corpse," a story from the pages of Galaxy written by Frederik Pohl and adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in our cast were Leon Janney, Jim Boles, Joseph Bell and Reese Taylor. This is Fred Collins. "X Minus One" was directed by Daniel Sutter and is an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

NBC ANNCR:

There's excitement in the air at night and "Nightline" brings it to you. Hear "Nightline" with Walter O'Keefe, next on most of these NBC stations.

MUSIC:

NBC CHIMES