Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Lights Out
Show: I, Madman
Date: May 05 1937

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

JOHN McTIGUE...a man in his early thirties; cultured, now in death-cell.
OLD HARFORD...a senile old clubman.
QUIMMER...another old clubman.
NEWSBOY
DOOR-MAN
POLICE OFFICER
BUTLER
COMMENTATOR VOICE NO. 1
COMMENTATOR VOICE NO. 2
PRIEST

VOICE:

Lights Out, everybody!

CHIMES - WIND - ALL OUT WITH:

GONG:

JOHN:

(THERE SHOULD BE THE MEREST SUGGESTION OF INSANITY IN HIS VOICE IN THESE NARRATIVE SPEECHES) Don't stare at me like that....Please, don't stare at me like that....I'm just like you - yes, just like you....The cancer in the mind - it doesn't change us - not at all. We live, we see, we understand....I want to tell you how it started - where it started. It was at my club - oh, a perfectly harmless place! Boring, I always thought it was. Old men sitting around a fire talking of little nothings. We younger members belonged just for the prestige - I rarely went there...until that night....There were three of us sitting before a dying fire - Mr. Quimmer, old Harford, and I. Old Harford - the oldest member of the club - the richest. Because he had the most money, he was supposed to know the most, and when he talked, everyone listened as if it were the high priest himself speaking. That night he had been doing very little talking - I'd been doing most
of it. I remember when I got thru spouting he looked at me thru those gimlet eyes of his and said:

HARFORD:

(OFF SLIGHTLY - IN FACT - HE IS AN OLD MAN - SLOWLY) I must say you're a fool, John McTigue....

JOHN:

(STRAIGHT VOICE) Fool? I?

HARFORD:

Any man who talks the way you just did is a fool, and no mistake. Eh, Quimmer?

QUIMMER:

(ANOTHER AGED FOSSIL - HIGHER PITCHED VOICE THAN HARFORD) Right, Mr. Harford, right!

JOHN:

(HALF AMUSED, HALF IRRITATED) And perhaps you gentlemen who agree so unanimously will tell me why I'm elected to the dunce's chair?

HARFORD:

Certainly I'll tell you! Any man who hopes to look into the future is a fool, and no mistake!

QUIMMER:

Right, Mr. Harford, right! The present is ours - the future is God's!

JOHN:

But think, men, think of what knowing the future would mean to a man! Why, he'd be a king on earth! Knowing everything - the future trends of politics, world history, the rise and fall of money markets - yes, he'd be more than a king - a god on earth!

HARFORD:

A fool on earth - an unhappy fool!

JOHN:

(GOING ON ENTHUSIASTICALLY) Knowing what the stock markets and - and the race tracks of the world would do, this man could make a fortune just like that! (SNAP OF FINGERS) And if he could see ahead far enough, why he could foresee his own death! Yes, and prevent it!

HARFORD:

Eh?

QUIMMER:

What's he raving about?

JOHN:

Yes, I tell you the man who looked into the future could delay his own death! Few of us die naturally in our own beds - if a man - if I could look into the future and see, for example, that I was going to die in an automobile accident, say ten years ahead, I'd stay out of autos ten years from now and cheat death! Yes, cheat death! (UP) You hear that, you two - cheat death! Live my full span of years fully, completely, gloriously!

HARFORD:

(ANGRILY) And I tell you that if you knew the future, it would be tragic...it would be a horror beyond your comprehension!

JOHN:

(SCORNFULLY) Words! Words! I say that if I knew the future, even a few days ahead, I'd hold the world in my hand! I'd have a power that no mortal man ever had before!

HARFORD:

I repeat - it would be a horror beyond your comprehension!

JOHN:

Horror - horror - what are you talking about horror?

HARFORD:

You would not understand..........

JOHN:

All right, then let it be horrible! I tell you I'd give my soul to be able to look into tomorrow! My soul! (FADE) My soul!....

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE (SHORT)

JOHN:

(SUGGESTION OF INSANITY) Yes, that's what I said to them - Mr. Quimmer and old Harford - I said I'd give my soul to look into tomorrow....(IN CLOSE) And you know, I think that somehow, somewhere the Power heard..(BROKENLY) the Power heard...(RECOVERING SELF) I came out of the club a few minutes after I left Quimmer and Harford that day. I remember the sun was fiercely hot. The door man said:

SOUND OF STREET IN FAST AT "HOT" IN ABOVE, CONTINUES FAR BEHIND FOLLOWING:

DOORMAN:

Bright day, Mr. McTigue.

JOHN:

I nodded my head - I kept walking up the street - in my mind the things I'd been talking about to those old men kept turning and twisting....My car was parked up around the corner...I kept walking....I turned the corner, and then - how can I explain it - I had a feeling that things weren't what they'd always been. Like when you come home at night - you come into the living room - the furniture's been changed around while you've been gone - you don't quite know for sure that it has, but there's an uneasiness in you - somehow something's different....

That's the way it was with me when I turned into that street.....The same old street - I've been there many times - and yet somehow quite different. The first thing was my car - it wasn't there at the curb where I had left it - but that, that was only part of it.

The store-fronts - different some of them - I stood there blinking in the sunlight trying to figure it out - peculiar changes all around - little things - the same old street and yet it wasn't quite the same - people walking, cars passing, and in me that strange vague feeling that this, this was somehow different, not the same street I had walked on but a few short hours before.

NEWSBOY:

(START FADEIN AT "BEFORE" IN ABOVE) Paper! Get your paper! Read all about it! Paper, mister? Paper?

JOHN:

The newsboy was calling out his papers on the corner. I walked up to him. He said:

NEWSBOY:

(BREAKING OFF HIS TALKING) Paper, mister? Paper?

JOHN:

(UNEASY NOTE IN VOICE) Listen, fellow, tell me - is this - is this North Market Street?

NEWSBOY:

Sure! Cancha read the signs? (BEGIN TO FADE) Get your paper! Read all about it! Get your paper!

JOHN:

Wait, fellow, wait!

NEWSBOY:

(BACK IN) Huh?

JOHN:

Let me have a paper! Quickly!

NEWSBOY:

Sure!...(FADE) Gee, thanks! (BEGIN TO FADE) Paper! Get your paper!

JOHN:

(INTENSELY) Newsboy! Come back here! Come back!

NEWSBOY:

(BACK IN) What's the matter? What?

JOHN:

This newspaper!

NEWSBOY:

It's the latest edition, mister - so help me!

JOHN:

Look at it, you! Look at it!

NEWSBOY:

W-what's the matter with it?

JOHN:

Look at it, I tell you! The date! Look at the date!

NEWSBOY:

Mister, are you nuts? It's today's paper - see - April 30!

JOHN:

But the year! Look at the year!

NEWSBOY:

(READS) Nineteen thirty-eight. (TRIUMPHANTLY) See - it's all right! Nineteen thirty-eight!

JOHN:

(EXCITEDLY) But that's wrong, I tell you! Wrong! It's April thirtieth, nineteen thirty-seven!

NEWSBOY:

Gee, mister, you are screwy! Don't you even know it's nineteen thirty-eight? (FADE) Doncha? Doncha?

STREET SOUNDS FADE WITH ABOVE FADE

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE (SHORT)

JOHN:

(WHISPERING, IN CLOSE) Nineteen thirty-eight!...It had happened! The thing I had talked about in the club to those old men had happened! Really happened! Somehow I had stepped into the world of the future - the world as it would be one year ahead!...No, no, it couldn't be true, I told myself! It couldn't! How could I turn a corner and move ahead three hundred and sixty-five days? And yet the newspaper...I had to know! I hurried down the street!

FADEIN STREET NOISES AGAIN, CONTINUING FAR BEHIND:

JOHN:

I saw a policeman. I went up to him. I said: (OFF MIKE - FADEIN FAST - EXCITEDLY) Officer! Officer!

POLICEMAN:

Yes, sir?

JOHN:

Officer, the date! Tell me the date!

OFFICER:

(IRISH) Sure and is that anything to get excited about? It's - let me see - April the thirtieth - yes, that's it! The last day of the month!

JOHN:

Yes, I know, I know! But the year - tell me the year!

OFFICER:

Ah, come now, it's pretty early in the day to be gettin' liquored!

JOHN:

You fool, I'm serious! The year - please tell me the year!

OFFICER:

Now along with ye! You'd better be going home! I say if a man don't know the year, he'd better be off the street, and no mistake!

JOHN:

But, officer --

OFFICER:

Now along with ye! It's 1938 if that'll cool ye down, (FADE) so along with ye! Along with ye!

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE (SHORT)

JOHN:

(NARRATION VOICE) Nineteen thirty-eight! So it was true! I'd moved ahead one year in life! One solid year! That look into the future that I'd wanted was mine!.. And then, suddenly, in my ears -- no, in my head! - I seemed to hear the voice of old Harford saying:

HARFORD:

(IN CLOSE) It will mean horror beyond your comprehension....

JOHN:

For a moment I stood there - frightened - and then the fright was gone and in its place came a thrilling sense of power I had never known! This was my opportunity - a chance a man had never had in all the history of the world! To step into the future - to know what was going to happen before anyone else in the world knew of it! (ENTHUSIASTICALLY) All the things I said to Harford come true - a power in my hands that no one else has ever known! Knowing a year ahead of time the future trends of the stock market - the racetracks - a king - a king on earth! Oh, there was no doubt in my mind that I'd go back - you understand - that I'd go back and be able to profit by what I'd learned in this world a year in the future! I remember I threw open the pages of the newspaper!

Then I shouted aloud until the people turned and stared at me! There it was - in black on white - the horseraces of a year away! The stock markets of a year away! All I had to do was save this paper so that when this miracle was over and I was back in nineteen thirty-seven again, I'd be able to use the knowledge to make a fortune! And then a thought struck me! I didn't know how soon this miracle would be over and I'd be back again in nineteen thirty-seven! Better act fast, John McTigue, I told myself! Get all the information you can on the winners in the horseraces in the next year - the winners in the stock markets! I had to get my hands on the newspapers! All the newspapers...for the year that didn't even exist! And then another thought occurred to me! Old Harford! He said it couldn't happen! I'd phone him - that's what I'd do - I'd phone him and tell him of this miracle! That I'd been shoved ahead a year in my life - was walking in the year nineteen
thirty-eight all in a minute! I turned into a drugstore - hurried into a phone-booth!

STREET SOUNDS OUT KNIFE-CLEAN AT "PHONE BOOTH"

SOUND OF NICKEL IN PHONE SLOT - DIALING - RINGING AS IF HEARD THRU TELEPHONE RECEIVER RINGING OUT WITH:

VOICE:

(AS IF HEARD THRU TELEPHONE RECEIVER) Mr. Harford's residence.

JOHN:

Hello, is Mr. Harford in?

VOICE:

Mr. Harford (PAUSE) senior?

JOHN:

Certainly Mr. Harford senior! Is he in?

VOICE:

I - I'm very sorry, sir.

JOHN:

(SHARPLY) What are you sorry about?

VOICE:

Mr. Harford senior - he passed away some time ago.....

JOHN:

(SHARPLY) What are you talking about! He's not dead....

VOICE:

Yes, sir. Dead.

JOHN:

But - but I saw him only - - I mean when - when did it happen?

VOICE:

Six months ago.

JOHN:

Oh!

VOICE:

And might I ask who is calling, sir?

JOHN:

(SLOWLY - HE IS VERY SHOCKED BY THE NEWS OF HIS FRIEND'S DEATH) An old friend....You know me, Jenkins. The name is John McTigue.

VOICE:

(GASPS) John McTigue?

JOHN:

(A LITTLE IMPATIENTLY) Yes, yes, John McTigue! You remember me, don't you, Jenkins? John McTigue who --

VOICE:

(CRIES OUT IN HORROR - CRY CUTS OFF ABRUPTLY AS:)

SOUND OF CONNECTIONS BEING BROKEN.

JOHN:

Say!

JIGGLING OF HOOK UP AND DOWN.

JOHN:

Jenkins! Why did you cry out like that? Jenkins, what - hung up on me! Now why did he do that? (FADE) Why should he cry out and hang up on me? Why?....

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE (SHORT)

JOHN:

(NARRATOR VOICE) Yes, I couldn't quite figure that out - why should the man scream and hang up when I told him my name was John McTigue? But I said to myself - no matter. I have so much to do before the time came to be back - as I knew that time would come! So old Harford would die inside of the coming year, would he? I remember I chuckled to myself at the thought! (CHUCKLES) He hadn't known that he would be dead when he had said:

HARFORD:

(WHISPERING) It would be horror beyond your comprehension....

JOHN:

(LAUGHINGLY) Yes, yes, I laughed - a horror beyond your comprehension, old Harford! You die within the year! (SERIOUSLY) Yes, that's what I said as I stood there in the phone-booth wondering why the old butler had screamed at me when he heard my name. But no matter, I told myself - knowing that old Harford would die within the coming year was interesting but unimportant against the work I had to do. The newspapers - in them stock market and the horseraces! I had to know what the market had done in the year - what horses had won! With that information safely written down, let the Power that had sent me into the future take me back in Time again - I wouldn't care!

When I got back, I'd be the richest man in the world inside of a week!

I hurried down to the newspaper offices! I went into their files! There, with the newspapers of the past year stacked before me, I knew a thrill no man had ever known before! There - there was the printed record of three hundred and sixty-five days that hadn't been lived yet in time - and the knowledge I was going to get out of them would give me the world when I got back into the year 1937 - as somehow, somehow I knew I would get back!

I began to turn the pages, one by one...

SOUND OF NEWSPAPERS BEING TURNED

JOHN:

I didn't write anything down at first - I wanted to enjoy myself reading what was going to be. And then - and then -

BEGIN RUMBLE OF KETTLE DRUM AT FIRST "AND THEN" IN ABOVE SPEECH - CONTINUING AND BUILDING UP BEHIND JOHN'S FOLLOWING SPEECH, REACHING CLIMAX AT POINT INDICATED IN FOLLOWING:

JOHN:

(BUILDING UP) It caught my eye! The headline! The paper of the day before! April the twenty-ninth, nineteen hundred and thirty-eight! There it was - staring, glaring at me! Letters of black streaking across the paper! Words unbelievable! My eyes saw them and my ears sang with them! (BREATHING HEAVILY IN CLOSE AS FOLLOWING IS HEARD:)

VOICE:

(FILTER THIS VOICE SO THAT IT IS SLIGHTLY UNNATURAL) "SLAYER OF AGED BANKER DIES TOMORROW! HIGH COURT REFUSES APPEAL OF CONDEMNED MAN! JOHN McTIGUE DOOMED TO ELECTRIC CHAIR!"

JOHN:

It was I! I! Doomed to the electric chair! A murderer!

KETTLE DRUM REACHES CLIMAX AT "A MURDERER" IN ABOVE - OUT KNIFE-CLEAN

JOHN:

(AFTER PAUSE - BROKENLY) A murderer - I was a condemned murderer - that's what it said - condemned to die...that night! But whom had I killed - when - where? I read on - quickly - my eyes soaking up the words! Whom had I killed? Whom? ...... (SLOWLY) And then I saw the words - the words that told me - (WHISPERS) and I couldn't believe. Oh, no, not him! Why should I have killed him in this year I'd never lived! Why him? Why? (MORE CALMLY) Yes, I'll tell you....The man those newspapers said I had murdered was...old Harford!

(SIGHS DEEPLY) Yes...unbelievable to you...and so it was unbelievable to me. I turned the newspaper pages back, back thru the days to find out what had happened. Days I hadn't even lived - moving back page after page into a time I'd never known! Page after page!

DISTINCT PAPER RATTLE

VOICE NO. 1:

(BACK SLIGHTLY) "John McTigue convicted of banker murder!"

PAPER RATTLE

JOHN:

Page after page.

VOICE NO. 2:

"John McTigue case goes to jury!"

JOHN:

Trying to find out.

PAPER RATTLE

VOICE NO. 1:

"Harford murder case on trial!"

JOHN:

Why did they say I had done it? I kept turning the pages - back - back ......

PAPER RATTLE

VOICE NO. 2:

"Grand Jury Indicts John McTigue for Banker Murder!"

JOHN:

Turning the pages, going back into time to find out all about it!

PAPER RATTLE

VOICE NO. 1:

"John McTigue Held without Bail for Harford Murder!"

VOICE NO. 2:

"Community Shocked by Murder of Aged Banker!"

JOHN:

When and where and why had I done it - that's what I wanted to know!

VOICE NO. 1:

"AGED BANKER MURDERED IN DOWNTOWN CLUB!"

JOHN:

So! That was where! I had murdered him in our club! But when? I looked at the date on the paper! There it was - I had killed old Harford on ...... October the thirtieth, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven! And today, when I had first talked of this madness of going into the future, had been April the thirtieth, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven! That was my destiny, then! In six months I would murder old Harford, why I did not know! And in six more months my fate would be - the electric chair!

VOICE NO. 2:

"Murderer refuses to give reasons for murder of fellow clubman. John McTigue keeps silence on motives behind brutal murder in smart downtown club of aged banker."

JOHN:

Yes, that was what the paper said - I gave no motives. But I had to know why my future was the murder of that old man! I had to know!... And then, suddenly, I realized how late it was getting. And the thought, the memory of that day's headline suddenly flared in my head!

VOICE:

JOHN McTIGUE DIES IN ELECTRIC CHAIR TONIGHT!

JOHN:

Tonight! (DAZEDLY) And yet, I thought to myself, my brain pounding within me, how could that be? How could I die that night? How could I? Here I was, a free man, and yet the papers said - and the pictures were of me - that I was the one to die in the chair that night! And yet I - I hadn't killed Harford! I had left him, only a few hours before, dozing in that favorite easy-chair of his! And yet these papers - these papers of a world that was really a year in the future - were saying that I was to die for having killed him six months before!

START RUMBLE OF KETTLE DRUM TO INDICATE INCIPIENT MADNESS

JOHN:

My head began reeling - my brain pounding - how could that be? How could that be? How could they kill me when I was of the past, when this day was a year ahead in my life? No, no! Not me! They couldn't kill me! (UP MADLY) Not me!

KETTLE DRUM OUT KNIFE-CLEAN WITH ABOVE "NOT ME!"

JOHN:

(INTENSELY) Then I got an idea! I would go to the execution! Yes, go to my own execution! I wanted to see - I wanted to know! How could that be - killing me in the electric chair when I was here a free man only a few hours before the papers said I was to be electrocuted! Yes, yes, I would go to the electrocution!...How I got to the prison I don't know. All I remember is that I was there - crowds milling around - outside the walls -

FADEIN CROWD NOISE AT "CROWDS MILLING AROUND" IN ABOVE, HOLD UNTIL CUE, FAR BEHIND FOLLOWING:

JOHN:

I stood outside the walls of the jail with the others - until at last I heard someone say:

VOICE:

They're letting in the lucky ones!

CROWD NOISE UP SLIGHTLY -- FADING OUT QUICKLY BEHIND:

JOHN:

Then I understood - they were letting in the reporters and the witnesses to the execution! The police were holding back the ones that didn't have invitations - yes, invitations to my execution! - but miraculously - how - when - I couldn't quite understand - but miraculously I was inside with the others - taking a chair in the row of chairs that faced the black-armed chair they said was going to kill me. I listened to them talking - - - -

VOICE NO. 1:

(SOTTO) He had it coming to him....

VOICE NO. 2:

Yeah!

VOICE NO. 1:

Killin' an old man!

VOICE NO. 2:

I'm kinda sick to my stummick!....

VOICE NO. 1:

Take a couple of deep breaths. It won't be so bad.

VOICE NO. 2:

Do they really burn?

VOICE NO. 1:

Yeah...You see the smoke rise and curl...

JOHN:

(INTENSELY) Me! Talking about me! And yet I knew they were fools! Yes, fools! How could I die in the electric chair when I was sitting there next to them! How could I?...All at once everyone around me stiffened in their chairs! I could hear their feet shuffling nervously on the concrete!

SCUFFLING OF FEET ON CONCRETE AS THE WATCHERS SHIFT NERVOUSLY

JOHN:

(TENSELY) I heard an iron door clang.

IRON DOOR CLANG - FADEIN SLOW TREAD OF FEET ON CONCRETE AS THE GUARD LEADS PRISONER IN.

JOHN:

(WITH GROWING EXCITEMENT) Footsteps coming closer - and then, suddenly, they were there! The priest walking in front - and two guards following behind half carrying between them - oh, I swear to you it is the truth - half-carrying...(SHARPLY) me!

PRIEST:

(BACK) - (MUMBLING) Preserve me, oh God, for in Thee do I put my trust - for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell - neither wilt Thou suffer (FADE QUICKLY) thine Holy One to see corruption......

JOHN:

The priest mumbling prayers, and me there - I tell you, me there between the guards! I knew it was me - not someone who just looked like me, but me - me!...The man sitting next to me whispered:

VOICE:

(SOTTO) There goes John McTigue....

JOHN:

(BREATHING HEAVILY) They were putting me into the chair! Me sitting out there watching the me of a year later being strapped into the chair! (WITH RISING INTENSITY) It couldn't be! No, it couldn't be! A man couldn't have two beings like that! Two existences! Straps around arms - helmet over head - the warden's hand on the switch! No, I couldn't stand it longer! I jumped to my feet! I screamed (UP MADLY) Stop! Stop!

QUICK MURMUR OF CROWD WATCHING EXECUTION - AD LIBS SUCH AS "Look at that guy!" - "He's crazy!" - "what's the matter?" ETC AD LIB

JOHN:

(UP MADLY) Stop it! Stop it! It's me! Me! No, no, don't pull that switch! Don't throw that switch! That's me in that chair there! Don't throw that switch!

BRING IN WHINE OF ELECTRICITY ABRUPTLY - UP HIGH VIBRATING SO THAT IT SIMPLY POUNDS.

JOHN:

(AS CURRENT VIBRATES SCREAMS PIERCINGLY) - (SCREAMS FADING BACK QUICKLY)

WHINE OF ELECTRICITY CONTINUES FOR A SECOND LONGER, THEN FADE QUICKLY BACK

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE (SHORT)

JOHN:

(SLOWLY) The world went black - I didn't know - I couldn't see - couldn't hear - as if sitting there watching I died with that other self there in the electric chair....And then suddenly someone was shaking me - somebody was saying:

DOORMAN:

(ANXIOUSLY) You - you all right, sir? You all right?

JOHN:

(DAZEDLY)-(WEAKLY) What - when - what --

DOORMAN:

You must have fainted, sir - just after you left the club. I brought you in here. Are you all right, sir?

HARFORD:

(GRUFFLY) Certainly he's all right! Young fool - walking in the streets without a hat.

JOHN:

Mr. Harford!

HARFORD:

Eh? What's the matter?

JOHN:

You're not - you're not --

HARFORD:

I'm not what? Say, you're in bad shape, young man! Sunstroke if I miss my guess! (FADE) You'd better get home and to bed! And no mistake!

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE (SHORT)

JOHN:

And then, suddenly, I knew I was back. Back in time a year - back to April thirtieth, nineteen thirty-seven. Back to where I had been - back to reality - back to my club. Old Harford - not dead - not murdered by me - bending over me, a sneer on his lips at my weakness. (SLOWLY) And suddenly - so strangely - suddenly I hated the man! Yes, hated him! A mad, unreasoning thing - and yet there it was - hatred! ...They took me home - talking all the time of my sunstroke, but when I was alone I reached into my pocket, and there, just the way I thought it would be, was that newspaper I had bought from that newsboy on the street. I spread it out on the table. Yes, it had all really happened - there was the date line - April thirtieth, nineteen thirty-eight. This was the proof that what had happened had happened - a newspaper of the world a year in the future! I suddenly jumped to my feet! This newspaper - the horseraces! - Why, here I had the opportunity I had dreamed of! All I had to do was wait a year and then play the horses that would win those races a year away - the winners that were printed in this paper! I could make a fortune! All I had to do was wait a year!... (ALL INTENSITY AND EAGERNESS GOES OUT OF VOICE) And then I remembered something else...That man dying in the electric chair...the murder which the newspaper said I'd do within six months. What could I do? What could I do to escape that horrible destiny?

And then I laughed! (LAUGHING) Me kill old Harford? No, no, of course not! Now that I knew my destiny, I would escape it! I would never kill that harmless old man! Not me! (UP EAGERLY - HAPPILY) Yes, yes, I told myself - this mad adventure I had had would mean my fortune, not my ruin! On that day a year ahead I'd be a millionaire, not a prisoner in a death-cell! Kill old Harford? Not me! Not me! (MORE CALMLY) When I awoke the next day, it seemed as if the whole thing had never happened. And yet, there was that newspaper - date one year ahead! I took it out and looked at it. Mary Ann would win the first race at Churchill Downs, it said. Paid fifty dollars for two. The room swayed as I read. This horse - this horse that would run on that day a year ahead would pay twenty-five dollars for every dollar I invested - and there were six more races with the winners all in my hands! Oh, glorious newspaper! I treasured it - oh, how I treasured it! (WITH A COLD
CHUCKLE) And oh, how I hated the slowness of the days that came! One by one they passed - bringing me closer and closer to my fortune - but oh, how slowly they went! A fortune ahead of me because I looked into the future - a fortune - oh, if that glorious day - the date line of that newspaper - would only come!....(VOICE HARDENS) But there was something else in the days beside their slowness that annoyed me..and that was Harford! I would go to the club - he would look up at me from his deep easy chair and say:

HARFORD:

(CHUCKLING SNEERINGLY) Well, young man! Have you looked into that future of yours?

JOHN:

Every day - every single day when I came into the club he would say that! And oh, how I began to loathe the man! Aged - skin yellow - thick veins crawling under the yellow parchment of it -- a faint odor of decay about him as if the grave was closing around him as he sat there in that easy chair waiting for death to tap him on the shoulder...I would sit down in that same room in another chair where I could keep an eye on him...and I would think of that scene in the future - that scene which I had so miraculously been a part of...That man - me - stumbling between the guards - the whine of the electric chair - (GREAT HATE IN HIS VOICE) and all because of him - that aged old fossil sitting there! Such horror he would have given me if I hadn't been given that power to look ahead! Such a horrible end! Death in the chair! Oh, why didn't he die, I'd ask myself! Why didn't he die and go to the grave that had been waiting for him so long!..The days crept
on - closer and closer to the date line of the paper....I had it all planned - I'd spread my bets all over the country - a thousand here - a thousand there - keep the odds up - stop suspicion before it started. I spent long hours figuring out what my winnings would be - you see, I could do that, and accurately, too - that newspaper told me to a penny just what they'd be...The months passed - one, two, three, four, five - closer and closer came my fortune..(TENSELY) and that old man sitting there in my club kept sneering:

HARFORD:

(SNEERINGLY) Well, McTigue - looked into the future yet?

JOHN:

(TENSELY) Oh, how I wanted to tell him - laugh in his face - show him that newspaper...but I had to wait..I had to be silent...First I had to make my killing at the race tracks...One morning, oh months after it all began, I awoke with a strange feeling of uneasiness crawling within me like a long green snake. I dressed quickly - I wanted to get out of the house - I decided to have breakfast at the club. I remember I picked up that blessed newspaper of the future, just before I left the house, and thought to myself that soon, soon it would bring me all I'd been waiting for so impatiently!..(TENSION STARTS BUILDING UP IN HIS VOICE) I came into the club. It was so early - few were there. I went into a side-room. I sat down. I thought I was alone. Suddenly, from the depths of a chair turned away from me, I heard:

HARFORD:

(BACK SLIGHTLY - SNEERINGLY) Well, if it isn't the rash young Mr. McTigue himself!

JOHN:

(DEFINITE TENSENESS IN HIS VOICE) Mr. Harford! You're - you're here!

HARFORD:

(CACKLING LAUGHTER) Yes, and I think I'll be here long after some you young whippersnappers are gone! Tell me - still in hopes of stepping into the future and making a killing? Eh?

JOHN:

(IN CLOSE - NARRATOR VOICE) The moment he said that, I felt myself getting up out of the chair - slowly, and yet so tensely...I didn't want to get up, and yet I did...I began walking toward him - slowly - slowly --

SOUND:

OF SLOW, MEASURED FOOTSTEPS, CONTINUING.

HARFORD:

(BACK SLIGHTLY) Young man! What's the matter?

JOHN:

I didn't want to walk toward him that way....(AWE IN VOICE) and yet I couldn't help myself. I had to!

HARFORD:

(NOTE OF ALARM IN VOICE) Young man! What's the matter?

JOHN:

He kept backing away from me - fright came into his old face - fear glistened in his eyes!

HARFORD:

(REAL ALARM IN VOICE) Stop looking at me like that! Stop it, I say! Stop it!

JOHN:

Then the wall was at his back! He could cringe away no further!

HARFORD:

(UP IN SENILE TERROR) Stop, McTigue! Have you gone insane? (FADE SLIGHTLY) Why are you looking at me like that? What do you want of me? Help me, somebody! (CONTINUING AD LIB UNTIL CUE)

JOHN:

(AT FADE IN HARFORD'S ABOVE SPEECH) My hands were claws! They shot out! Closing on his scrawny neck!

HARFORD:

(AT "HIS NECK" IN ABOVE HIS AD LIB BREAKS OFF INTO CHOKING SOUNDS CONTINUING HORRIBLY)

JOHN:

Choking him! Choking him! I wanted to stop but I couldn't! I swear to you I couldn't! My hands kept choking, choking!

HARFORD:

(CHOKING SOUNDS TURN INTO DEATH GASPS - OUT WITH:)

THUD OF FALLING BODY - VERY DISTINCTLY HEARD

JOHN:

(IN A HUSHED VOICE) He was dead! Dead! Old Harford dead!...(IN AWE) And suddenly - suddenly I remembered the day and the month! It was October thirtieth - the very same date those newspapers I had read six months before had said I killed the man!.. (BROKENLY) My destiny had caught up with me...(SIGHS DEEPLY) So there's my story...No one believes it..why should you? And yet it's the truth. I swear to you it's the truth! I looked into the future, (FADE) but it did me no good - a man's destiny is his destiny! I killed Old Harford, but it wasn't my fault, I tell you - it wasn't my fault!

FIRST VOICE:

(IN CLOSE BEGINNING AS SOON AS JOHN HAS FADED BACK FAR ENOUGH SO THAT HIS SPEECH IS UNINTELLIGIBLE MUTTERING) Sam, what's he muttering about?

SECOND VOICE:

Oh, that McTigue guy? Just a little stir-cazy, that's all! Most of 'em get that way after they've been in this place a while. But it won't be long now!

FIRST VOICE:

What do you mean?

SECOND VOICE:

Don't you ever read the papers? It's the thirtieth of April tomorrow. That's the day set for his execution!

GONG:

ANNOUNCER:

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