Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Escape
Show: The Birds
Date: Oct 07 1954

CAST:
NARRATOR
ANNOUNCER
NAT, father
DEBORAH, mother
JILL, daughter
MRS. TRIGG, neighbor
MR. TRIGG, neighbor
BBC ANNCR
CBS ANNCR (1 line)

NARRATOR:

Tired of the everyday grind?
Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure?
Want to get away from it all?
We offer you --

MUSIC:

"ESCAPE" ACCENT

NARRATOR:

-- ESCAPE!

MUSIC:

EERIE ACCENT, IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

ESCAPE! Designed to free you from the four walls of today for a half hour of high adventure!

MUSIC:

THEME ("NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN") ... THEN OMINOUS, IN BG, OUT AT [X]

NARRATOR:

You are in a farmhouse on the southern coast of England -- the autumn countryside around you, desolate and bleak. And you know that in the dusk outside, waiting patiently for you, silently watching for you, is an enemy from whom there may be no escape. [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Listen now as ESCAPE brings you Daphne du Maurier's story, "The Birds."

MUSIC:

FOR A SOMBER INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

NAT:

(NARRATES) On December the third, the wind changed overnight and it was winter. Until then, the autumn had been mellow, soft. The earth was rich where the plough had turned it. I didn't do the ploughing; no, my wartime disability had seen to that. They gave me mostly the lighter repair jobs to do in the three days a week that I worked at the farm -- a bank to build up, or a gate to mend at the far end of the peninsula where the sea surrounded the farmland on either side. Deborah and I had taken a cottage up here to try again - for the sake of the children. And it seemed to be working fairly well. I enjoyed my work on the farm. And it was pleasant to pause at midday to eat the lunch that Debbie prepared and brought to me. We'd sit there on the cliff while I ate and we'd watch the birds. [X]

SOUND:

BIRDS CHIRP AND WHISTLE ... THEN IN BG

DEBORAH:

So many of them, Nat.

NAT:

Yes. Well, the autumn's better than spring for watching them.

DEBORAH:

Oh? Why?

NAT:

Oh, well, in the spring, they're content, they're full of purpose, they know where they're going, there's no delay. But then in autumn it's different. The birds that don't migrate seem to follow a pattern of their own.

DEBORAH:

Pattern?

NAT:

Mmh. Great flocks of them here on the peninsula -- restless, uneasy, wheeling, circling, coming to rest and then flying again -- the land birds - and the gulls down there in the bay. Same sort of - rhythm in their movements.

DEBORAH:

They don't really go anywhere. Doesn't seem to be any - purpose to it.

NAT:

No. Well, if there is, we don't see it. There's a restlessness. They're more restless this year than usual, it seems to me. Do you know, this morning, two gulls flew so close they knocked off my cap?

DEBORAH:

Jill said yesterday when the school bus let her off, there was quite a few of them overhead, as if they'd been following.

NAT:

Oh, well, I suppose it means a hard winter. They always seem to know. Perhaps a message comes to them in autumn -- a warning.

DEBORAH:

About winter?

NAT:

And about death.

DEBORAH:

(ADMONISHES) Nat--

NAT:

Many of them will die, and I think they know it. Perhaps they feel they have to - spill their motion out before they die. Like people who know their time is up and run about stupidly, driving themselves.

DEBORAH:

I wish you wouldn't talk like that, Nat. That - that black side of you, that stirred up the trouble between us before.

NAT:

Oh, I'm sorry, Debbie. But it's come over me lately as I've watched them -- the land birds mingling with the sea birds in a sort of strange, unnatural partnership. Land, and sea. Life, and death.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

WIND BLOWS ... THEN IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) At night, it turned colder and the wind strengthened. Around two in the morning, the sound of it beating against the house woke me up. I lay there with the slow, even breathing of Debbie beside me. And I thought of Jill and Johnnie in the room across the hall. We seemed safe, secure.

SOUND:

TAPPING ON GLASS ... CONTINUES IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) And then I heard it -- a tapping on the window. At first I thought it was a loose shutter and then I realised it wasn't.

SOUND:

NAT CLIMBS OUT OF BED

NAT:

(NARRATES) I got out of bed -- went to the window -- opened it.

SOUND:

TAPPING STOPS AS WINDOW SLIDES OPEN AND WIND INTENSIFIES

NAT:

(NARRATES) Suddenly, something brushed against my hand -- (YELPS IN PAIN) -- jabbed at my knuckles and then was gone over the roof and behind the cottage. (EXHALES) Huh!

SOUND:

WINDOW SLIDES SHUT AND WIND SUBSIDES

NAT:

Hm!

SOUND:

NAT RETURNS TO BED

DEBORAH:

(WAKES, SLEEPY) Nat? What--?

SOUND:

NAT CLIMBS INTO BED

NAT:

Uh, it's all right, Debbie. It was a bird; I don't know what kind.

DEBORAH:

Bird?

NAT:

Mmm. Wind must have driven it against the window sill. (REALIZES) My hand's wet with-- It's blood.

DEBORAH:

Hm?

NAT:

The little beggar drew blood.

DEBORAH:

Go to sleep, Nat.

NAT:

Ah, must have been frightened and stabbed at me in the dark.

SOUND:

TAPPING ON GLASS ... CONTINUES IN BG

NAT:

Oh, for the--!

DEBORAH:

Nat, the window; see to it. It's rattling.

NAT:

I've already seen to it. It's some bird trying to get in.

DEBORAH:

Send them away. I can't sleep with that noise.

NAT:

(YAWNS) All right. All right.

SOUND:

NAT CLIMBS OUT OF BED AND MOVES TO WINDOW ... TAPPING STOPS AS WINDOW SLIDES OPEN AND WIND INTENSIFIES ... HALF A DOZEN BIRDS SQUEAK AND SQUAWK, THEIR WINGS FLUTTERING

NAT:

Go on. Off with you

SOUND:

NAT SCUFFLES WITH HALF A DOZEN BIRDS WHO SQUEAK, SQUAWK AND FLUTTER, BEHIND--

NAT:

(WITH EFFORT) Why, you little-- Stay away from my face. Get - out! Get away!

SOUND:

WINDOW SLIDES SHUT AND WIND SUBSIDES

DEBORAH:

(WIDE AWAKE) Dear--? Whatever in the world--?

NAT:

Did you see that? There were half a dozen this time. They - they went for me. Tried to peck my eyes.

DEBORAH:

(SKEPTICAL) Oh, Nat--

NAT:

I'm not making it up, dear.

JILL:

(SHRIEKS, FROM OFF) Mummy!

DEBORAH:

(TO NAT, SHOCKED) What--? Why, it's Jill. Go see what's the matter!

NAT:

Right.

JILL:

(SHRIEKS, FROM OFF) Mummy!

NAT:

(CALLS) Coming, Jill!

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS ... NUMEROUS BIRDS SQUEAK, SQUAWK AND FLUTTER

JILL:

(DISTRAUGHT) They came flying at me.

NAT:

Where's Johnnie?

JILL:

Under the blanket.

DEBORAH:

(APPROACHES) What is it? What's the matter?

NAT:

Quick! Get the children out of here!

DEBORAH:

Birds?!

NAT:

Yes.

DEBORAH:

The room's full of birds! In my face!

NAT:

Get the children out of here and shut the door! Quick!

MUSIC:

AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--

NAT:

(NARRATES) I pushed them out of the room, and then I was alone with the birds. (WITH EFFORT) I seized a blanket and I used it as a weapon, sweeping it right and left. And I could hear the thud of bodies but they kept coming at me -- jabbing at my hands, my head! Trying for my eyes with beaks as sharp as pointed forks. I wrapped the blanket around my head; beat about with my bare hands -- blindingly. I don't know how long I fought them. Finally, the beating of wings lessened, and then -- was still.

I unwrapped the blanket from my face. The cold grey dawn had seeped into the room. The floor was littered with the tiny corpses of the birds -- robins, finches, sparrows, larks. Some had lost feathers in the fight, others had blood -- my blood -- on their beaks. Sickened, I went to the window.

MUSIC:

FADES OUT BEHIND--

SOUND:

WIND AND SURF, CONTINUES IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) The fierce sea broke harshly in the day. But there was not a bird in sight. Not a sparrow chattered in the hedge; no early thrush or blackbird pecked on the grass for worms. There was no sound at all but the east wind and the sea.

DEBORAH:

(CALLS, FROM BEHIND DOOR) Nat?

SOUND:

NAT WALKS TO DOOR

NAT:

I - I'm all right, Debbie.

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS

DEBORAH:

I didn't know what-- (GASPS) You're covered with blood.

NAT:

Some of it's the birds. Look on the floor.

DEBORAH:

(SHUDDERS) Ohhh. There's so many of them.

NAT:

Yeah. Fifty. I counted them.

DEBORAH:

It's horrible.

NAT:

Come, my darling. I'll clean the room later when I've more stomach for it.

SOUND:

THEY WALK OUT OF ROOM ... DOOR SHUTS, CUTTING OFF WIND AND SURF

DEBORAH:

It must have been ghastly for you.

NAT:

Are the children all right?

DEBORAH:

Yes, I've put Jill to work making tea. Johnnie's in our bed just now asleep. Nat, why?

NAT:

The birds? Well, it - must be the weather. The sudden change confused them. It has to be that.

SOUND:

JILL'S FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

JILL:

The tea's ready, mummy.

DEBORAH:

Oh, good.

JILL:

Did you drive away the birds?

NAT:

Yes, they're all gone now, Jill.

JILL:

I hope they won't come again. Perhaps if we put bread crumbs for them outside the window, they'll eat that and fly away.

DEBORAH:

Perhaps, dear.

JILL:

I've already had breakfast. I'd better hurry or I'll be late for the school bus.

NAT:

Bus? Oh, uh-- I'll walk with you to the road, Jill.

DEBORAH:

Yes, I think that'd be a good idea.

JILL:

(MOVING OFF) I'll go get my coat and books!

SOUND:

JILL'S HURRIED FOOTSTEPS AWAY

NAT:

I didn't want her to walk alone.

DEBORAH:

Nat? They - they wouldn't come back again?

NAT:

Well, I-- I'll go over to the farm and find out if they heard anything during the night. You keep all the windows and doors closed, Debbie. Just to be on the safe side, hm?

MUSIC:

GRIM BRIDGE

SOUND:

NAT'S FOOTSTEPS ON DIRT ROAD

NAT:

Hallo! Anyone about?

SOUND:

FRONT DOOR OPENS

MRS. TRIGG:

Hello, Mr. Hawkins.

NAT:

Oh, is the mister around, Mrs. Trigg?

SOUND:

NAT'S FOOTSTEPS ONTO WOODEN FRONT PORCH

MRS. TRIGG:

Uh, somewheres about. But can you tell me where this cold is comin' from -- Russia? I've never seen such a change and it's goin' on, the wireless says. Somethin' to do with the Arctic Circle.

NAT:

Ah, we didn't turn on the wireless this morning. (SLIGHTLY EMBARRASSED, CLEARS THROAT) Fact is, we had trouble in the night.

MRS. TRIGG:

Aw. Kiddies poorly?

NAT:

No, not exactly, no. We - we had some trouble with birds. I, er-- Why, it sounds absurd but they flew in the window and attacked us.

MRS. TRIGG:

(SKEPTICAL) Attacked ya? Now, Mr. Hawkins-- (LAUGHS)

NAT:

No, I'm not making it up, Mrs. Trigg. There are fifty dead birds on the floor of the children's bedroom.

MRS. TRIGG:

Foreign birds?

NAT:

No. No, the kind you see about here every day.

MRS. TRIGG:

Really? Well, you ought to write up and ask the Manchester Guardian. They'd have a thought about it.

MR. TRIGG:

(APPROACHES) Hey, morning, Hawkins.

NAT:

Hello, Mr. Trigg.

MRS. TRIGG:

Mr. Hawkins's been tellin' about some birds last night.

MR. TRIGG:

Oh?

MRS. TRIGG:

He says they attacked him.

MR. TRIGG:

Attacked?

MRS. TRIGG:

Mmm.

MR. TRIGG:

Are you sure?

NAT:

Quite.

MR. TRIGG:

Huh. Never heard of a thing like that before. Hungry maybe. Looking for food.

MRS. TRIGG:

Mmm.

MR. TRIGG:

(HELPFUL ADVICE) You put out some crumbs.

NAT:

Yes, of course. (AWKWARD BEAT) I'll be up tomorrow as usual. Good morning.

SOUND:

NAT'S FOOTSTEPS WALK OFF PORCH ONTO DIRT ROAD AND MOVE AWAY UNDER FOLLOWING--

MRS. TRIGG:

Hmmm. Ordinary birds, he said.

MR. TRIGG:

Attacked him! Now, what does he take us for, coming round with a story like that? A strange one, he is, with those superior airs. D'you see the look he gave us when we didn't swallow his story? Attacked him! I think he reads too many of those books.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

DOOR SHUTS ... NAT'S FOOTSTEPS WALK IN

DEBORAH:

Oh, Nat, did you find out anything at the farm?

NAT:

No. The Triggs' brilliant advice was to put out some crumbs. Debbie, I looked all around this morning. There's not a single bird in sight outdoors.

DEBORAH:

Where could they have gone?

NAT:

I don't know.

DEBORAH:

The Triggs had no trouble last night?

NAT:

Not only that, they clearly thought I was imagining it. Oh, I heard Trigg mutter something about my superior airs and reading too many books as I walked away. Nothing's real to those clods until it hits them over the head.

DEBORAH:

Well, they're nice enough people, Nat. It's just that they're isolated up here.

NAT:

Well, that's certainly the polite word for it.

DEBORAH:

I haven't been able to face going into the children's room. Those birds.

NAT:

(REMEMBERS) Oh. Yes, I'll go and clean it up. Well, I suppose the least I can do is give the little beggars a decent burial.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN OUT BEHIND SOUND EFFECTS CUE--

NAT:

(NARRATES) I dropped the dead birds into a sack; went down to the beach to bury them.

SOUND:

WIND AND SURF, IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) The wind was bitter cold. I dug a pit in the sand with my heel and started to empty the sack into it, but the wind caught the birds and whirled them along the shore. There was something ugly in the sight. (PHILOSOPHICAL) But the tide would take them when it turned.

I looked out at the crested breakers.

And then I saw them.

The gulls -- out there, riding the seas -- thousands -- tens of thousands.

They rose and fell in the trough of the sea, like a mighty fleet at anchor -- waiting for the turn of the tide.

Waiting.

They stretched as far as my eye could reach. They covered the sea.

SOUND:

NAT'S HURRIED FOOTSTEPS IN SAND

NAT:

(NARRATES) I started up the steep path home, almost running. Someone should know of this. Someone should be told. But who?

SOUND:

NAT'S HURRIED FOOTSTEPS TO FRONT DOOR WHICH OPENS BEHIND--

NAT:

(NARRATES) And then, as I opened the front door, I saw Debbie beside the wireless, listening--

BBC ANNCR:

... destruction, damage and even attacking individuals.

SOUND:

DOOR SHUTS ... NAT'S FOOTSTEPS WALK IN

BBC ANNCR:

It is thought that the Arctic air stream is causing the birds to migrate south in immense numbers and that intense hunger may drive them to attack human beings. Householders are warned to see to their windows, doors and chimneys, and to take all precautions for the safety of their children. Further bulletins will be issued later.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF RADIO SHUT OFF

DEBORAH:

They've been repeating it every few minutes since you left.

NAT:

Well, perhaps now those empty-headed idiots at the farm will know that I was--

DEBORAH:

(ADMONISHES) Nat! You sound almost glad.

NAT:

Oh, don't talk rot, Debbie. It's just that when people with half a brain try to tell me that I--

DEBORAH:

Can't you forget that superior attitude of yours even now?

NAT:

(SNAPS) Don't use that word "superior" to me; I'm sick of it!

DEBORAH:

(SNAPS BACK) So am I, Nat, so am I! You--! (CALMS) Oh, I - I'm sorry, dear. This thing has made me a little nervy, I guess.

NAT:

Yes, I - I'm sorry, too, my dear.

DEBORAH:

Nat? One of the bulletins said the birds seemed to be waiting. For what?

NAT:

I don't know. They - said the birds are hungry.

SOUND:

NAT'S FOOTSTEPS TO TOOLS ... RUMMAGES AROUND

DEBORAH:

What are you doing?

NAT:

Getting a hammer. I'm going to get some boards and see to the doors and windows, as they tell you to.

DEBORAH:

Do you think they could break in with the windows shut, the sparrows and robins and such? Why, how could they?

NAT:

I wasn't thinking about the smaller birds. I was thinking about the gulls.

DEBORAH:

The gulls?

NAT:

Debbie, have you ever been close enough to get a good look at a gull's beak? (BEAT) There must be a hundred thousand of them out there -- riding the sea -- waiting.

MUSIC:

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

NAT:

(NARRATES) The rest of the morning I worked upstairs boarding the bedroom windows. And I wondered whether they'd take these precautions up at the farm. I doubted it. Probably a big joke to the Triggs. But, according to the wireless, it was no joke. At first, some of the bulletins had been light in tone, but as the morning wore on the concern in the announcer's voice became more and more apparent. Well, after I'd finished upstairs, I took the rest of the lumber down; boarded up the lower floor windows. [X]

DEBORAH:

What they ought to do is call the army out and shoot the birds. That would soon scare them off.

NAT:

Debbie? Uh, how are we off for food?

DEBORAH:

Now, Nat, whatever next?

NAT:

Well, never mind. What have you got in the larder?

DEBORAH:

Shopping is tomorrow, you know that. I don't keep uncooked food hanging about; it goes off. But I can put some things in tomorrow.

NAT:

(THOUGHTFUL) Tomorrow.

SOUND:

NAT'S FOOTSTEPS TO FRONT DOOR WHICH OPENS ... WIND AND SURF, IN BG

NAT:

It's only three in the afternoon and it's almost dark.

DEBORAH:

What?

SOUND:

DEBORAH'S FOOTSTEPS TO FRONT DOOR

DEBORAH:

Why, yes. The sky -- it looks so heavy. Nat, what's the matter? You've gone quite white.

NAT:

(GRIM) Look. The tide's turned. The gulls--

DEBORAH:

They've risen.

NAT:

Circling over the sea. Not a sound from them.

DEBORAH:

(WORRIED) Nat--?

NAT:

I'm going for Jill. I'll wait for her at the bus stop. You keep Johnnie inside and keep the door shut!

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

WIND AND SURF, IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) Outside, I looked for a weapon, but a hoe was all I could find. Then I went to the top of the hill and waited.

The surf was booming below and a smudge rose behind the clay hills in the distance. It widened, divided, and spread -- north -- east -- south -- west. It was a vast cloud of birds, and it passed close by, heading inland, upcountry.

They had no business with the people here on the peninsula.

Rooks, crows, jackdaws, magpies -- birds that usually preyed upon the smaller species. But, this afternoon, they were bound on some other mission.

They'd been given the towns, I thought. They know what they have to do.

We don't matter so much here -- the gulls will serve for us. The others go to the towns.

Finally, the bus came. When Jill got off, I took her by the hand--

SOUND:

BUS PULLS TO A STOP, DROPS OFF JILL WHO TRUDGES TO NAT ... BUS DRIVES OFF, BEHIND--

JILL:

What's the hoe for, daddy?

NAT:

Oh, I just brought it along. Come along now, darling. Let's go home; it's cold. No hanging about, hm?

SOUND:

NAT AND JILL'S FOOTSTEPS WALK BRISKLY HOMEWARD, IN BG

JILL:

I want to play a bit in the lane.

NAT:

Not tonight. Now, come on, no dawdling.

JILL:

Look, daddy. Look over there, look at the gulls. They're flying in from the sea. (BEAT) They're so quiet.

NAT:

(HIDES NERVOUSNESS) Yes. Do hurry, darling.

JILL:

Where are they flying to?

NAT:

Oh, up country, I dare say. Where it's warmer.

JILL:

Don't go so fast. I can't keep up.

NAT:

Hurry.

JILL:

The gulls -- they're - they're circling. It looks like they're waiting for something.

NAT:

(TO HIMSELF) For a signal. An order.

JILL:

What?

NAT:

Nothing. Come on, dear, faster.

JILL:

But I can't go faster.

NAT:

Wait, wait. There's Trigg in his two-seater.

SOUND:

CAR PULLS UP

MR. TRIGG:

Well, looks as though we're in for some fun, Hawkins. Have you heard the news? Everyone's gone bird crazy, talking of nothing else. I'm going to take a crack at them with my gun.

NAT:

Could you run Jill home first?

MR. TRIGG:

Oh, yes, of course. Not room for you, too, I'm afraid.

NAT:

That's all right. Just get Jill home. Get in, Jill dear.

SOUND:

JILL CLIMBS INTO CAR

MR. TRIGG:

Would you like to come shooting with me?

NAT:

No, thanks. Have you boarded your windows?

MR. TRIGG:

(CARELESS) Noooo! Lot of nonsense. They like to scare you on the wireless.

NAT:

I'd board them, if I were you.

MR. TRIGG:

(DISMISSIVE) Oh, go on -- you're winded. (BRIGHTLY) Well, see you in the morning. I'll give you a gull breakfast!

SOUND:

CAR DRIVES AWAY

NAT:

(NARRATES) I watched Trigg drive Jill toward the cottage, and then I followed on foot.

SOUND:

NAT'S BRISK FOOTSTEPS, IN BG ... AS CHATTER OF GULLS GROWS LOUDER

NAT:

(NARRATES) The sound made me look up. The gulls were approaching. The order had been given, and the farm was their target. The black-backed gulls were leading and there were bigger birds -- gannets, terns. And suddenly one of them dove at me--

SOUND:

BIRD SWOOPS DOWN

NAT:

(NARRATES) Missed--

SOUND:

BIRD SWOOPS UP

NAT:

(NARRATES) --rose to dive again.

SOUND:

BIRDS ATTACK NAT WHO DROPS HOE AND RUNS ... IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--

NAT:

(NARRATES, RAPID) And then came the others -- six, seven, a dozen. I dropped the hoe, covered my head with my arms and ran toward the cottage. They kept coming at me from the air with beating wings. Each stab of a swooping beak tore at my flesh. I had to keep them from my eyes! And, with each dive, they became bolder, and they had no thought for themselves. When they missed, they crashed -- bruised and broken on the ground. And as I ran I stumbled, kicking their spent bodies in front of me. And now their aim got better -- closer to my eyes -- closer. And then I reached the door of the cottage.

SOUND:

NAT POUNDS ON DOOR

NAT:

(SHOUTS, IN TERROR) Let me in! It's Nat! Let me in! (NARRATES) And then above me, I saw the gannet, poised against the sky for his dive. The gulls drew back. Only the huge gannet. The wings folded suddenly to its body -- and it dropped like a stone at me! The door opened up.

SOUND:

FRONT DOOR OPENS

NAT:

(NARRATES) I flung myself in!

SOUND:

FRONT DOOR SLAMS SHUT ... SQUAWK OF GANNET AS IT SLAMS INTO DOOR ... THEN SILENCE

NAT:

(BREATHES HARD)

DEBORAH:

Good Lord! What was that?!

NAT:

A gannet! He'd have split my skull!

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

DEBORAH:

Better now?

NAT:

Yes, thanks. You're - you're quite the wound dresser. Where are the children?

DEBORAH:

In the other room. I didn't want them to see you that way.

NAT:

No.

SOUND:

OMINOUS SHUFFLING BEGINS QUIETLY IN BG ... GROWING LOUDER DURING FOLLOWING--

DEBORAH:

Your hands are the worst.

NAT:

I'll be all right. We'd better all sleep here in the kitchen tonight. I'll bring down the mattresses.

DEBORAH:

All right. I'll pick something tasty for supper and we can prepare--

NAT:

Wait--! (HUSHED) Listen.

DEBORAH:

That sound. What is it?

NAT:

The birds. They're crowding against the outside of the house. They're trying to find a way in.

SOUND:

BIRDS CHATTER, FROM OFF

DEBORAH:

(STARTS TO PANIC) Nat--!

NAT:

No, Deb. They - they can't get in. I tell you, they cannot get in. The boards will hold.

DEBORAH:

For how long? How long?

NAT:

Stop it!

SOUND:

NAT STRIDES TO RADIO

NAT:

Here, I'll turn on the wireless.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF RADIO TURNED ON

NAT:

That'll drown them out.

MUSIC:

ON THE RADIO ... DOESN'T REALLY DROWN OUT THE BIRDS

NAT:

There. There, that's better.

DEBORAH:

Yes. Anything, so I can't hear that horrible racket.

NAT:

It's only the food that worries me, Debbie. Now, I've noticed that the birds come in with the tide. But the tide'll go out about nine tonight and we should have a lull of about six hours. I could slip out during that time and go to the farm, see if they can give us something.

MUSIC:

ON THE RADIO ... OUT FOR--

BBC ANNCR:

This - is London. A national emergency was proclaimed at four o'clock this afternoon

DEBORAH:

(HORRIFIED) Nat--!

NAT:

Sh!

BBC ANNCR:

Measures are being taken to safeguard the lives and property of the population, but it must be understood that these are not easy to effect immediately, due to the unforeseen and unparalleled nature of the present crisis.

NAT:

(GRUNTS)

BBC ANNCR:

It is absolutely imperative that everyone remain indoors until further notice. The birds, in vast numbers, are attacking everything in sight. The population is asked to remain calm and not to panic. There will be no further transmission from any broadcasting station until seven a.m. tomorrow.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF RADIO TURNED OFF ... BIRDS CONTINUE IN BG

DEBORAH:

Like this all over, then. All over.

NAT:

Debbie? About supper, let's - let's forget it. Let's all just try to get some sleep.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

TAPPING, FLAPPING, CHATTERING OF THE BIRDS

DEBORAH:

Nat? Wake up!

NAT:

(WAKES) Hm? Huh?

DEBORAH:

Nat? They're back again.

NAT:

What--? What--? What time is it?

DEBORAH:

A little after three.

NAT:

Ah, the tide's come in again.

DEBORAH:

There's been a queer smell the last few minutes. Rather like burned feathers.

NAT:

What? Burned feathers? (REALIZES) The chimney! I forgot to keep the fire up. They're coming down the chimney.

SOUND:

NAT AND DEBORAH'S HURRIED FOOTSTEPS, IN BG

DEBORAH:

No!

NAT:

Where's the oil?

DEBORAH:

On the shelf!

NAT:

There they are, squeezing through the chimney. Stand back. Let me throw the oil on the coal.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS OUT ... NAT THROWS OIL ... FIRE BLAZES

NAT:

There. That'll get 'em.

DEBORAH:

Nat - Nat, I can't stand it!

NAT:

Get me paper, wood, anything that'll burn. Hurry.

SOUND:

DEBORAH'S HURRIED FOOTSTEPS AWAY ... NAT THROWS THINGS ON HISSING FIRE ... THUDS OF DROPPING BIRDS

NAT:

(NARRATES) Their charred bodies kept dropping down the chimney. I raked them to one side, but more came. I threw on the rest of the oil. We piled papers on it - kindling - anything! The flames roared higher. More bodies. The stench was unbearable. I kept at it. Finally, they gave up. And I went over to the basin; I was sick.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) Around nine in the morning, the rustling ceased. I opened the door a crack. Crushed birds were deep about the house but there was not a living bird in sight. The tide had gone out. Now was my chance to get food and fuel. I ran all the way to the farm. There was no smoke from the chimney. I came 'round the corner of the house -- and stopped. In the doorway, almost covered with dead birds, were Mr. and Mrs. Trigg -- what was left of them. Beside him was his gun. Beside her, a broken umbrella.

MUSIC:

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

NAT:

(NARRATES) I loaded the two-seater with all the food I could find -- enough for perhaps three days -- and drove back to the cottage. I told Debbie the Triggs didn't need their car for a while and had told me to take it. She said nothing. [X]

SOUND:

BIRDS CHATTER AND RUSTLE OUTSIDE OF HOUSE ... IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) And towards nightfall, the birds came back again. We sat by the fire and listened to the rustle as they crowded against the house.

SOUND:

HEAVY TAPPING OF BIRDS' BEAKS ON WALLS AND ROOF ... CONTINUES IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) But this time there was a new sound. They'd brought up their heavier forces against us, the birds with larger beaks. I could hear the sound of tiny bits of wood being torn away.

DEBORAH:

(SLOW MONOTONE) They'll stay till the tide turns. Then they'll leave. Then they'll come back again. And they'll keep coming back. (BEAT) Nat?

NAT:

Yes?

DEBORAH:

The Triggs. They're dead, aren't they?

NAT:

(BEAT) Yes.

DEBORAH:

We're all alone. Strange. I feel closer to you than - than I've ever--

NAT:

That it should take something like this to bring us--! (EXHALES) Debbie, you - you may be interested to know that right now, I do not feel very superior.

DEBORAH:

Don't, Nat. (IN TEARS, HYSTERICAL) Oh, Nat! Nat, what'll we do?! (WEEPS, IN BG)

NAT:

I don't know, Debbie. I do not know.

SOUND:

OF BIRDS, FILLS A PAUSE

MUSIC:

A LONG, LOW NOTE ... THEN IN BG

NAT:

(NARRATES) I listened to the sound of the splintering wood. And I wondered how many million years of memory was stored in those little brains -- behind the stabbing beaks, the piercing eyes -- now giving them this instinct to destroy mankind with all the deft precision of machines.

I switched on the wireless. It was dead.

I reached for the cigarettes.

There was only one left in the packet.

I lit it.

I threw the empty packet on the fire ...

... and watched it burn.

MUSIC:

UP, FOR A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

Under the direction of Norman Macdonnell, ESCAPE has brought you "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier, specially adapted for radio by Robert Ryf, starring Ben Wright with Virginia Gregg. Featured in the cast were John Dehner, Ann Morrison, Ann Whitfield and John Dodsworth. Your announcer, George Walsh. The special music for ESCAPE is composed and conducted by Leith Stevens.

MUSIC:

THEME ("NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN") ... THEN FADES OUT BEHIND--

ANNOUNCER:

If you like your thrills to be real, your adventure to be true-to-life, GANG BUSTERS is the show for you. Now every Monday night, most of these same CBS Radio stations bring you the drama that names names, places and dates, in the nation's battle against crime.

Stay tuned now for NIGHT WATCH, which follows immediately over most of these same stations.

Where there's GUNSMOKE, there's Western adventure -- Monday nights on the CBS Radio network.

CBS ANNCR:

Stay tuned for NIGHT WATCH.

HERMAN HICKMAN isn't the only exciting personality you'll want to hear, right here at the Stars' Address. Of course, where sports are concerned, the famous former football coach at Yale and one-time All-American player is a natural. And he's well worth listening for any Monday through Friday evening at six-thirty.

But when you're in the mood for musical entertainment, as you're likely to be any Monday through Friday morning at nine-thirty, Joan Edwards is the person to hear. The melodies she sings or plays each weekday morning are as sunny as her disposition. And her friendly personality only adds to the pleasure of listening to THE JOAN EDWARDS SHOW. Monday morning at nine-thirty, and every Monday through Friday morning at that time, remember to tune in on happiness on our lighthearted-- (FADES OUT)