Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Tales Of Tomorrow
Show: Syndrome Johnny
Date: Feb 05 1953

MUSIC:

Theme

ANNCR:

Tales of Tomorrow! Tales beyond human imagination...until they happen.

MUSIC:

Accent

ANNCR:

Tales of Tomorrow: "Syndrome Johnny", by Charles Dye

MUSIC:

Climax and out

OMENTER:

This is your host, Omentor, saying Hello.

MUSIC:

UNDER

OMENTER:

Question - can I predict the future? Answer - No. I make no prognostications. I tell my remarkable tales only because I've BEEN into the future, and on my journeys I've noted one thing -- history repeats itself. With variations, of course.

The story tonight is a repetition, in a way, when you recall the great plagues of the Middle Ages. They had the "black death" then. In my tale of tomorrow, however, it's the "Syndrome Plague." There's a difference in that the Syndrome Plague was not spread by vermin or animals -- but by a very well-kept human being. There are other differences, as you'll see -- As you'd know if you read, in Galaxy Magazine, the story called -- "SYNDROME JOHNNY."

MUSIC:

UP AND UNDER --

FX:

BATTERY OF TELETYPES -- ESTABLISH AND DROP UNDER

OMENTER:

Headquarters, Federated States of America, 2090 AD. In this nerve center of the Western Hemisphere, all is normal except the blood pressure of Lucius McVane, who heads the office of Health Control. McVane is scanning the latest newspaper editorials concerning his organization and, to put it mildly, is fit to be tied. In a case like this, the first person to enter the office is the one to take the blast. (DOOR CLOSE -- SHUT OUT THE TELETYPES) It was Julio Camba, a special investigator for the department.

JULIO:

Here is the report on the -

LUCUIS:

(ANGRILY) Will you tell me the meaning of this, Julio?

JULIO:

Meaning? Meaning of what?

LUCIUS:

The Newspapers! Climbing up my back -- every one of them. They've taken this story that came out of Peru and blown it up to bursting.

JULIO:

This would be the story from Titquahapalel -- that Syndrome Johnny was seen down there.

LUCIUS:

Seen -- and nearly caught, or so it says. (EXPLODING) The papers are demanding I take action. Find this man. Wipe out the possibility of another plague. Blast it , Julio, Syndrome Johnny is a myth -- has been for a hundred years. How the deuce to they expect me to track down a myth?

JULIO:

(CLEARS HIS THROAT) Excuse me, Lucius -- perhaps we had better glance at this report from Mass Phenomena before discussing it further.

LUCIUS:

(TAPERING TO A GRUMBLE) What's Mass Phenomena got to do with it? I'm being crucified, man.

JULIO:

I fear the papers are too hasty -- jumping at conclusions. However, please to glance at this chart.

LUCIUS:

(PEERING THROUGH HIS BIFOCALS) Never could understand these graphs --

JULIO:

It simply represents the entire file on Syndrome Johnny -- every report that's come through in the last century. He has been seen, supposedly, in the four corners in the earth.

LUCIUS:

But nobody has ever really seen him -- it's the sort of thing that would naturally be induced by fear.

JULIO:

So it has always been felt. But apparently somebody in the Mass Phenomena has glanced through the file recently. Look at this line on the graph, Lucius.

LUCIUS:

Description.

JULIO:

Always there have been descriptions of Syndrome Johnny. Now it suddenly develops that each description has a remarkable similarity to all the others.

LUCIUS:

(SHARPLY) Let me see this. (PAUSE) A solid looking man, unusual number of minor scars, a disturbing habit of breaking his fingers ad the first-joint knuckles when he is thinking.

JULIO:

Cal it coincidence, if you like -- but there are perhaps twenty such reports. It becomes too many.

LUCIUS:

(THINKING) Mmmmm -- .Mmmm -- . I must agree with you, Julio.

JULIO:

There's a chance we've been passing up a crime.

LUCIUS:

(SOFTLY) A rather extensive crime -- when you consider that over 50 million people have died.

JULIO:

And we cannot overlook the one positive thing in connection with the history of the Plague. It was started by one man.

LUCIUS:

One man who sold a pint of his blood to a hospital -- one man who carried death in his veins.

JULIO:

We must remember also -- there have been three separate epidemics in these hundred years. All of a similar nature, but each one having different symptoms. You cold almost say that these three plagues have followed a plan.

LUCIUS:

I have long since learned to describe nothing as impossible, Julio. (BEAT, THEN DOWN TO BUSINESS) What is there to go on in this report from Peru?

JULIO:

A thumbprint, taken from the hotel register.

LUCIUS:

I wonder -- could we persuade the Bureau of Records to give us their data on that print?

JULIO:

Without a warrant? It is against constitutional Immunity.

LUCIUS:

Perhaps we could persuade and obliging judge --

JULIO:

The same newspapers screaming for Syndrome Johnny's capture would be on our necks in a minute. It would have to be proved that this man committed a crime. No crime -- therefore no warrant on that fingerprint.

LUCIUS:

(FIRMLY) then a crime will have to manufactured.

JULIO:

A crime of what nature?

LUCIUS:

If the man was almost captured, as reported, he must have defended himself. Someone must have been hurt in the process.

JULIO:

A reasonable assumption.

LUCIUS:

You will go down there, Julio, and persuade one of the mob to swear out a complaint of assault.

JULIO:

That should not be difficult. Believing this man to be Syndrome Johnny, as they do, I could probably get an affidavit of Witchcraft.

LUCIUS:

(DRY) Assault will do. Armed with that, you will check the records accompanying the thumbprint. Then proceed to find the owner of same.

JULIO:

(OVERHWLEMED) Is this an assignment, or a career?

LUCIUS:

(GIVING IT THOUGHT) There hasn't been an episode of the Syndrome Plague for thirty years. If one man IS behind it, following a definite plan, we should be about due for another one. This COULD be an errand of mercy, Julio -- to save the lives of another twenty million people.

MUSIC:

A GREAT URGENCY -- CARRY UNDER --

OMENTOR:

The people of the world were all too familiar with the history of the last century. They were not only expecting another world-wide epidemic at any time -- each family was pathetically trying to think of some way to protect itself against the scourge. Even is the previous conversation was taking place in Federation Headquarters, a husband and wife were sitting down to breakfast in a small Peruvian City. It's a safe bet that the discussion between Nita and Ricardo Alcala was being duplicated daily throughout the world.

MUSIC:

UP AND OUT

FX:

BREAKFAST

FX:

RATTLE OF NEWSPAPER

NITA:

Will there be another epidemic, Ric?

RIC:

(PREOCCUPIED) Mmm? Epidemic?

NITA:

Every day I read that one is expected momentarily.

RIC:

(COMING ALIVE) Syndrome Plague, you mean, Nita?

NITA: What else could make everyone so afraid?

RIC:

(SHORTLY) I don't think there will be another.

NITA:

WHY don't you think so?

RIC:

(REAHCING FOR A PLAUSIBLE ARGUMENT) It's only that -- well -- there has been nothing for years. I think the Plague has run its course.

NITA:

(PERSISTING) Three decades passed between the second and third epidemics.

RIC:

Please, darling, stop worrying. ..and I will have some more coffee if you don't mind.

NITA:

Of Course. (PAUSE WHILE THE COFFEE IS POURED) When people all over the world talk constantly of the epidemic that is sure to come --

RIC:

(SLAPS THE TABLE) You must not be disturbed by idle talk. It is based only on the fact that the first three occurred about thirty years apart. There is no reason in the world to suspect another one is due.

NITA:

(CURT) I was thinking of Alicia.

RIC:

(APOLOGETIC) I'm sorry I shouted, darling.

NITA:

She is too frail.

RIC:

(GENTLY NOW) The sanitarium will make her well again.

NITA:

If there is time, perhaps.

RIC:

There will be time. We must also send YOU there for awhile. It is really you who needs building up.

NITA:

And you also, Ric. (SIGHS) It seems that no one is really well anymore.

RIC:

(DEPRECATING) You are reading too much. Too much of this speculation about --

NITA:

Ric -- why don't you find a cure?

RIC:

(TAKEN ABACK) I am to find a cure? For Syndrome Plague?

NITA:

You spend your life in research -- what could be more worthwhile?

RIC:

Better brains than mine have been tackling the problem for decades. I'd have little hope of adding anything at this late stage.

NITA:

(EARNESTLY) But there is always the chance, Ric --

RIC:

(CLOSING THE SUBJECT) I can be more useful in my experiments with silicon, darling. The plagues have opened up whole new catalogues of diseases, most of them based on silicon deficiency. Let me find the cure for them and I'll be satisfied.

NITA:

If you will only think of Alicia.

FX:

DOOR OPENS OFF

DEL:

(OFF) Good morning.

RIC:

(HEARTILY) Good morning, Del -- you are ready for an early start in the lab?

DEL:

(COMING ON) You know how it is when you get on to something, Ric. You hate to waste time sleeping.

NITA:

(A TRIFLE COOL) Some coffee, Del?

DEL:

NO thanks, Nita. Just looked in to say hello.

NITA:

Why don't you find a cure for Syndrome Plague?

DEL:

I'm only a biochemist, not a miracle man.

NITA:

(DISCOURAGED) Good heavens, isn't there anyone in the world qualified to do research on this horrible disease?

DEL:

(EASILY) It's generally agreed that there IS no cure.

NITA:

There's a cure for ANY virus, if the virus can only be isolated.

DEL:

But here we have, apparently, a virus catalyst of high affinity for the cells, and a high similarity to normal cell protein. How shall it be isolated?

NITA:

I don't know -- I don't know. But it must be or we will all perish.

DEL:

Not all. Some will live, and those who do will be better, much more durable human beings. (BEAT) Will you be working in the lab today, Ric?

RIC:

Yes. I don't think we'll get in each other's way.

DEL:

I promise to be quiet. (TURNING AWAY) See you upstairs. (HE GOES OUT, CLOSING THE DOOR)

NITA:

(QUIETLY) I'm sorry, Ric -- I do not like that man.

RIC:

(PLACATING) He's hard to know, Nita.

NITA:

He's been using your lab now for many months, and I've tried to know him and like him. For your sake. Now I tell you it's impossible.

RIC:

It's just his manner. He's not a social type.

NITA:

It's more than his manner, believe me.

RIC:

(PUSHING BACK HIS CHAIR) I'm afraid you can't do any more about Del than you can about Syndrome Plague, Nita. The man is a genius, and I like him -- he'll use my lab as long as he likes.

NITA:

I didn't mean to quarrel about it, Ric. I'm uneasy, I guess, about everything.

RIC:

(CONCERNED) You're not looking too well, either.

NITA:

(WEARILY) I'm all right.

RIC:

(SMILING) You'll say that so long as you can walk. We've got to build you up, darling -- (BEAT) before the next epidemic.

MUSIC:

FEVERISH

FX:

INTO THE BATTERY OF TELETYPES

FX:

CLOSE A DOOR -- CUT THEM OUT --

JULIO:

(COMING ON) I have something, Lucius.

LUCIUS:

(JOVIAL) You should, Julio -- it's taken you long enough.

JULIO:

He's had a lengthy career, this man. (FLODER SLAPPED ON DESK) There -- the complete history of Syndrome Johnny.

LUCIUS:

(CAUTIOUSLY) The man who may be Syndrome Johnny.

JULIO:

I'm sure of it.

LUCIUS:

(IMPRESSED) That folder. It's big enough to be the complete works of Shakespeare.

JULIO:

He's been a very busy fellow, as you will see.

LUCIUS:

Two questions. First -- how will you prove our case?

JULIO:

I am not yet certain.

LUCIUS:

A test of his blood will reveal nothing. No trace of the virus has ever been found.

JULIO:

But his habits are well defined. He has spent years of preparation for each epidemic. If I am lucky, I will catch him with the end product of his experiments.

LUCIUS:

I pray that luck rides with you. Now - what's your plan?

JULIO:

H has remained some where in Peru. With his thumbprint and description, I will be able to trace him.

LUCIUS:

And you leave?

JULIO:

Today.

LUCIUS:

(FORCEFULLY) You have the authority to spend whatever fund you need, Julio. Do anything your discretion dictates. Be careful - he's dangerous, if this is our man. We want Syndrome Johnny and I don't care if he comes back under his own power or not.

MUSIC:

TAG WITH EMPHASIS -- SEGUE TO CONTEMPLATION AND FADE

FX:

WATER BOILING RAPIDLY

RIC:

(MUTTERING) Eighteen point two milligrams to the liter at one hundred degrees centigrade -- saturation point. Now were do we go -- Oh, drat it -- (SLAMS DOWN HIS PENCIL AND PUSHES BACK HIS CHAIR)

DEL:

(SLIGHTLY OFF) You've had a bad day, Ric.

RIC:

(SCOWLING) I can't focus, Del.

FX:

HE PACES ABOUT

DEL:

(COMING ON) Some days are good to take off. The mind becomes overworked and refuses to function.

RIC:

It's not that. This other thing keeps coming in into my head -- about Alicia -- and Nita.

DEL:

Something they have done?

RIC:

No -- just their general condition. They're sick, Del, both of them.

DEL:

There seems nothing basically wrong with them.

RIC:

It's a matter of adjustment, I know that. There's reduced absorption of food -- leaves them weak; resistance lowered.

DEL:

It's not fatal.

RIC:

Not in itself. Expose them to a killing disease, though, and they'd be gone overnight.

DEL:

You're the doctor, Ric. Haven't you got something to pull them up?

RIC:

Nothing has worked so far. I'm sure I'll hit the combination in time, but --

DEL:

Yes -- ?

RIC:

What will I do if the rumors are true -- if the plague hits -- ?

DEL:

(CHUCKLES) And I've heard you telling Nita there wouldn't be another epidemic.

RIC:

I've only tried to stop her from worrying; you know that.

DEL:

(SOBERLY) I know. (PAUSE, THEN REFLECTIVE) You recognize their troubles, as after-effects of the last plague?

RIC:

Of course. Nita's mother had it and recovered -- but not entirely. My father had it and appeared to recover completely. Yet here are the after-effects in both myself and Nita -- and multiplied, if anything, in our daughter.

DEL:

(SHAKES HIS HEAD) How unfortunate. Some were able to adjust to the disease, and become even healthier than before.

RIC:

But time - time - it takes time. And what if the fourth plague strikes before I'm ready?

DEL:

(SYMPATHETICALLY) You might try to isolate your family entirely.

RIC:

That's impossible.

DEL:

Then you must work to come up with answers to your research before the plague strikes.

RIC:

(GRIMLY) Not a very happy prospect, is it?

DEL:

I'll be glad to give you any help I can, Ric --

RIC:

You can't do anything. It would take me a year just to brief you on what I've done -- and you've got your own work. (A TIRED SIGH) I'm going to take an hour's rest.

DEL:

This is your night at the hospital, not so?

RIC:

Yes, and if I don't get my nerves unknotted they'll be putting me to bed over there.

DEL:

Get your rest. I'll go on working here this evening if you don't mind, Ric.

RIC:

Not at all. (A FLASH OF INTEREST) Sounds as though you've hit the right track and are pounding for the finish.

DEL:

It looks that way. I'll know tonight.

RIC:

Good. I'm glad somebody is getting results.

MUSIC:

EXPECTANT

FX:

BUZZER SOUNDS TWICE

TELEPHONE RECEIVER UP

RIC:

Alcala speaking.

JULIO:

(FILTER) Doctor Alcala?

RIC:

Yes -- who is this?

JULIO:

The name is Camba. Federation Investigator on a health case. I would like to consult you.

RIC:

(HESITANT) Well -- I'm on duty at the hospital right now --

JULIO:

My deepest apologies for interrupting your work. However, this is quite important and I should like to see you - tonight if possible.

RIC:

I'm off duty in half an hour.

JULIO:

Perhaps we can have a little supper?

RIC:

Name the place.

JULIO:

I have found a cantina at the head of Simon Bolivar Street -- .you know the one?

RIC:

I know. Meet you there in half -- better make it forty-five minutes.

JULIO:

Very good, Doctor. I will have a table.

FX:

RECEIVER DOWN

RIC:

(TO HIMSELF) What does a Federation investigator want with me?

MUSIC:

A QUESTION

FX:

THE CANTINA -- SLIP IN A SOFT GUITAR B.G.

JULIO:

Order what you choose, Senor -- we're on my expense account. The entire resources of the Federation States of the Americas stand behind your menu.

RIC:

(SMILES) I don't want to build up the national debt.

JULIO:

Not at all. We are only too happy to express our gratitude by adding a touch of luxury to the self-sacrificing life of a scientist.

RIC:

(DRY) You shame me. However, I'm a literal sort of fellow and will take you at your word. You may order me a steak.

JULIO:

(EXPANSIVE) Good! (UP) Amigo! Two steaks... large and thick! Also a bottle of your excellent wine!

RIC:

Of course I'm curious to know what you want from me, Senor Camba.

JULIO:

I won't keep you guessing, Doctor. (PAUSE, THEN WITH STUDIED CARE) -- Do you know John Osborne Drake?

RIC:

Drake? Drake? No, I'm sorry.

JULIO:

I will try again. Perhaps you know John Delgados.

RIC:

(SURPRISED) Why -- yes.

JULIO:

How well?

RIC:

An associate of mine -- A friend --

JULIO:

(CRISPLY) I would like to contact the gentleman.

RIC:

(SHRUGS) He has an apartment.

JULIO:

I have called several times and he is not home. Could you tell me where he is?

RIC:

(TIGHTENING UP SLIGHTLY) I'm sorry, Senor Camba, but I can't say. On a business trip, I suppose.

JULIO:

What do you know of his activities?

RIC:

A biochemist. Makes small job lots of chemical compounds -- special bug spray for experimental agricultural stations. Things like that.

JULIO:

Nothing more?

RIC:

Sometimes, when he gets a little money he does research.

JULIO:

Of what sort?

RIC:

High ion colloidal suspensions and complex synthesis. We haven't discussed the exact nature of them.

JULIO:

Is he sane?

RIC:

(SHOCKED) Why, of course! (BEAT) That is -- as far as I know. Would you hand me the water pitcher, please?

JULIO:

There is wine -- Ah! You have some capsules to take.

RIC:

(SHORTLY) Yes.

FX:

WATER POURED INTO GLASS

JULIO:

(JOKING) -- I would not expect a doctor to need pills.

RIC:

I don't need them. They're mixed silicones. I'm guinea-pigging.

JULIO:

Can't such things be left to the guinea pigs?

RIC:

Guinea pigs have no assimilation of silicones. Only man has that.

JULIO:

(CHIDING HIMSELF) I should have remembered from your famous papers -- "The Need of Trace Silicon in Human Diet" and "Silicon Deficiency Diseases."

RIC:

(NOT FLATTERED) Obviously you have investigated me carefully.

JULIO:

(PLEASANTLY) It is my business to know the people I deal with. I believe our steaks approach.

RIC:

A welcome sight -- and smell.

FX:

SILVER AGAINST PLATES.

JULIO:

What is the purpose of your experiment?

RIC:

To determine the safe limits of silicon consumption and see if there are dangers in an overdose.

JULIO:

How do you determine that? By dropping dead?

RIC:

(WRY) You could be right. Even now I'm turning to plastic.

JULIO:

I beg your pardon -- ?

RIC:

I'm turning to plastic. We all are, since the plagues -- but with the average, the effect is accumulating over generations. My own case is being advanced unnaturally by these silicon experiments.

JULIO:

Your devotion to science is admirable. Do these experiments of yours have any relation to Delgados' work?

RIC:

It's possible, I guess. Del has watched my work with close interest. (SUDDENLY IMPATIENT) Exactly what do you wish to know, Senor? I could inform you better if you were more frank.

JULIO:

We -- (WITH STUDIED CARE) -- have reason to believe that Delgados is Syndrome Johnny.

RIC:

Del? (STARTLED LAUGH) That's preposterous, Senor! Syndrome Johnny is a myth!

JULIO:

(VERY SOBER) Doctor Alcala. John Delgados is very old, and that is not his proper name. I have traced his life back through older and older records... in Argentina, Panama, South Africa, the United States, China, Canada. Everywhere he has paid his taxes properly, put his fingerprints on file as a good citizen should. And he has changed his name every twenty years, applying to the courts with good, honest reasons.

Everywhere he has been a laboratory worker, held patents, sometimes made a good deal of money. He is one hundred and forty years old.

RIC:

But -- but other men are that old --

JULIO:

Some of those who survived the three plagues have become unusually durable, true. There is no crime in being long-lived, surely, but this man has changed his name five times.

RIC:

(HIGH) That proves nothing. Syndrome Johnny remains a myth - a fragment of mob delirium.

JULIO:

(REASONABLY) Why must he be a myth?

RIC:

(TENSE) It's ridiculous! Why would any man -- ? (STOPS)

JULIO:

Go on, Doctor. Why would any man intentionally start those plagues?

RIC:

You obviously haven't investigated the latest scientific research. If you had, you would know it's been recently discovered that Syndrome Plague is not a disease at all! It's an improvement.

JULIO:

An improvement on life? (SHORT LAUGH) Then people have been improved to death by the millions. No Doctor - you are wrong to shield him in this way!

RIC:

(INSISTING) We are stronger! We are changed chemically! The race is improved!

JULIO:

Nonsense - it's clear you're shielding Syndrome Johnny because he's you're friend!

RIC:

(LYING) No! Potentially we are tremendously stronger, but we of this generation are still weak and ill - as our parents were - from the shock of change. We need silicone feeding, we have not yet adjusted. Our illness masks our strength.

JULIO:

(SMILES) The disease is silicones, you say? (BEAT, THEN FROM A NOTEBOOK) -- The original name of John Delgados was John Osborne Drake. His father was Osborne Drake, a chemist at Dow Corning, who was sentenced to the electric chair in 967. The crime -- unauthorized experiments resulting in an accidental epidemic and eight deaths. Dow Corning was the first major company in America to manufacture silicones -- though not connected with Drakes illegal experiments. It adds up, doesn't it?

RIC:

(DOGGEDLY) It is not a disease, it is strength!

JULIO:

(IN RESIGNATION) Very well, Doctor, I see further talk is useless.

RIC:

Lives will be saved in the long run! Individual deaths are not important!

JULIO:

(QUIETLY) That is hardly the philosophy for a doctor, is it?

RIC:

(SULKY) I want no more of this meal. If you'll excuse me, I'll go on home.

JULIO:

(POLITELY) My copter is outside, Doctor. I will give you a lift.

RIC:

(RELUCTANT) Well -- all right. (AND GRUDGING) Thank you.

MUSIC:

TAKE THEM INTO THE AIRE

FX:

LOW, SMOOTH, MOTOR SOUND UNDER

RIC:

You can see my house across town, Senor. It stands quite apart from the others.

JULIO:

I see it, yes. (RESUMING THE FRIENDLY TONE) Come Alcala, you're a doctor dedicated to saving human lives. How can you find sympathy for a man like Syndrome Johnny?

RIC:

I'm a research man primarily, dedicated to improving the average life. Individuals may sicken and die, but the average lives on. And if the average is better, I'm satisfied.

JULIO:

A pleasant philosophy, if you can believe it.

RIC:

Look -- I will take my penknife -- the blade is razor-sharp. (EFFORT) I will pres the blade as hard as possible against my finger -- it would cut off the finger of a normal person. Now look -- in the panel light -- you will see only the barest scratch on my finger.

JULIO:

(POLITELY) Your hand must be very hard.

RIC:

It has become like a rock! I could crack a heavy plate of cast iron! The silicone feeding has made me that way!...does that prove my point?

JULIO:

(QUIETLY) It proves only that a good and worthy man will cutoff his hand for an unworthy friendship.

RIC:

(THIN LIPPED) Thank you, Senor. I'm afraid I can't ask you in -- my - uh -- wife.

JULIO:

I understand. Good night.

RIC:

Good night.

FX:

THE COPTER DOOR OPENED

RIC:

When I see Delgados, I'll say that you're looking for him?

JULIO:

(PLEASANTLY) By all means, Doctor. I expect you to.

MUSIC:

START SOME TENSION AND CARRY IT UNDER A BIT --

FX:

DOOR CLOSE

RIC:

(STANDS PANTING)

DEL:

You've been running, Ric?

RIC:

The Feds are after you! (GASPS) They think you're Syndrome Johnny!

DEL:

(CALMLY) It's all right -- everything is done. There's the stuff I was after, in the metal box.

RIC:

You haven't time for that now, Del. You can't sell it. They'd watch for anyone of your description selling chemicals -- let me lend you some money.

DEL:

Thanks, I won't need it. How close are they to finding me?

RIC:

There's a copter parked out front. A Federal investigator brought me home -- apparently he didn't believe what I told him.

DEL:

What did you tell him?

RIC:

That you were probably away on a business trip. I think he suspects you're right here.

DEL:

One man only?

RIC:

Yes.

DEL:

(SHRUGS) He can't watch both entrances -- and my own copter is out back.

FX:

GETS OUT OF HIS CHAIR

RIC:

(GREAT EFFORT) Del -- DEL - are you Syndrome Johnny?

DEL:

(UNPERTURBED) I thought you had figured that out. Are you horrified?

RIC:

(PAUSE) (AS THOUGH FASCINATED) I've wanted to ask you, Del - when did you pick up those scars?

DEL:

I don't know, Ric. Truthfully. I've had my brains beaten in so often I can't remember much anymore. Up to eleven, everything is all right. But after Dad started to remake me, everything gets fuzzy.

RIC:

After he did what?

DEL:

He had to remake me, chemically, you know. How could I spread change without being changed myself? I couldn't have three generations to adapt to it naturally -- it had to be done artificially, you understand?

RIC:

Your father -- your father built you into a carrier of the Plague!?

DEL:

Oh yes. He saw the necessity of remaking the human race -- building human bodies into something durable. His work was only the beginning, of course...I've had to go with the research myself. For example, Dad never thought more than one plague would be necessary. As things turned out, it's going to take four.

RIC:

Then -- then there will be another?

DEL:

(SMILES) They're too late, Ric...I've made it. The catalyst I need is in this metal box. Nothing can stop me.

RIC:

But Del...do you realize how many millions more will die?

DEL:

I don't think I'll survive it myself. But it's the last step, Ric -- and I'll be around long enough to get it going. (SLOWLY, LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE) Those who survive this one, Ric, will be nearly perfect. So will their children. A hundred years from now -- there'll be little use for a doctor on this earth.

FX:

OPENS THE DOOR

DEL:

Goodbye, Ric -- wish me luck.

RIC:

Good-Goodbye, Del --

FS:

DEL'S STEPS GO AWAY..DOWNSTAIRS. OFF, ANOTHER DOOR OPENS

NITA:

(OFF -- TIGHT THROAT) Aren't you going to stop him?

RIC:

(AS THOUGH DAZED) Stop him, Nita?

NITA:

(COMING ON) I heard what he said! You can't let him get away from here, Ric!

RIC:

(COMING TO LIFE) I can't stop him, Nita!

NITA:

Why not?! Are you afraid of him? I will call for help -- the Federal coptor is still down in front!

RIC:

(TRYING TO BELIEVE IT) He's a scientist and my friend, trying to do something that needs to be done!

NITA:

He's a murderer -- of untold millions! How can you talk this way!

RIC:

He's working for the future -- and the future will thank him! Don't you understand, Nita? He's going to make the human race physically perfect!

NITA:

I understand this! Perhaps within a week the fourth plague will start and sweep around the world like the others. The living will not be able to bury the dead fast enough, and among the dead will be Doctor Richard Alcala - who is not well - and his wife Nita - who is not well - and his daughter Alicia, who is a very sick little girl. The name of Alcala will die forever as a weak strain that had no business living in this world of the future -- this world of perfect human bodies!

RIC:

Nita - please -- !

NITA:

(SUDDENLY TIRED FROM THE EFFORT) I know you won't act for yourself, darling -- (PAUSE) -- but will you let Alicia die? Your beautiful daughter, Alicia?

MUSIC:

BRING IN THE TNESION THEME FROM BEFORE AND BUILD IT, THEN DROP SUDDENLY BEHIND

FX:

NIGHT SOUNDS. HURRIED STEPS ON GRAVEL, TO STOP.

RIC:

Del!

DEL:

(DOWN) Quiet, you fool!

RIC:

(DROPPING HIS VOICE) Give me that metal box!

DEL:

(TURNING ON) Are you out of your mind?

RIC:

You can't start another Plague, Del!

DEL:

I'll do what I have to do, out of the way, Ric. I've everything stowed in the coptor and I want to leave before an investigator begins to sniff the wind.

RIC:

(PLEADING) You've been my friend, Dell. I ask you as a friend -- give me that box of death.

DEL:

(DOWN, WITH RESTRAINED FORCE) For the better part of one hundred and forty years I've been working toward this end. Are you silly enough to think I'd let friendship stand in the way? You're a supposedly intelligent man, Ric -- a scientist. You know as well as I do that the end justifies the means.

RIC:

That's what I've tried to tell myself, Del. But I can't make myself believe it!

DEL:

(GRIMLY) I've never had that trouble. Now get out of the way -- I'm going up and out of here in a hurry.

RIC:

(WARNING) Give me the box, Del --

DEL:

(ANGRILY) Out of the way, I said!

RIC:

Give me the box or I'll have to kill you --

DEL:

(LOW, HARD LAUGH) I've heard that said before.

CAMBA:

(APPROACHING) In any event, Dr. Alcala, I will relieve you of the necessity. You may consider yourself under arrest, Delgados.

DEL:

SO! The long arm of the government, eh?

CAMBA:

The doctor's wife was good enough to inform me. (COMING FULL ON) You will never get off the ground in that coptor, Delgados, -- because I've put the motor beyond repair.

DEL:

(EXPLODES UNDER HIS BREATH) I should have known! (THEN, WITH EFFORT) But there's still YOURS! (HEAVY BLOW)

CAMBA:

(CRIES OUT -- THEN SINKS TO THE GROUND WITH A BLOW)

RIC:

(CLINICALLY) I think you've killed him.

DEL:

Perhaps. I'm afraid the same will happen to you, my friend , if you try to prevent me from taking that Federation coptor.

RIC:

(AS BEFORE) I believe you, Del. Your fist is like a rock.

DEL:

Exactly. Stand where you are and everything will be all right.

RIC:

(SUDDENLY HARD) But my fist can also crush a skull, Del...my silicon fist --

FX:

HEAVY BLOW: DEL MOANS AND SINKS TO THE GROUND. RIC REGARDS HIM AND SPEAKS SLOWLY.

RIC:

-- which I developed without starting a plague. Goodbye, Syndrome Johnny. Human perfection will have to wait.

MUSIC:

CURTAIN

OMENTOR:

That's it. "SYNDROME JOHNNY", written by Charles Dye, and now on the newsstands in the pages of Galaxy Magazine. Next week, another extraordinary Tale of Tomorrow out of Galaxy Magazine -- entitled "The Unimars Plot".

This is your host, Omentor. Until next week, my friends, do stay healthy.

MUSIC:

UP

ANNCR:

Tales of Tomorrow! Heard in tonight's play were-----

Produced by ABC, in association with George Foley and directed by Warren Somerville. This program came to you from New York. THIS IS ABC...RADIO NETWORK.