Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: X Minus One
Show: The Lifeboat Mutiny
Date: Sep 11 1956

Writer: Robert Sheckley
Adapted by: Ernest Kinoy

DAVE (V.O.)
I have to trust my life to it. But Joe,
the interstellar junkman just wants to
show me around the lot... he can pat at
an airlock door lovingly or kick at the
ground gyros to show how sturdy they are.
Joe exudes charm the way trees drop sap
on you.

KNOCKING ON METAL

JOE
There, you see? Solid as a rock. Look at
that plating! I'm tellin ya, this boat is
a real buy.

DAVE
Well, she looks pretty old...

JOE
(this is not a bad thing)
Sure, she is old...

ARNOLD
Aw, now don't give us that story about
the little old lady who just used it to
flip to church on Sundays...

JOE
Now, boys, I'm not trying to unload
something on you... I don't stand to make
a nickel on this. But tell me the truth,
did you ever hear sweeter engines? And
look at those servos!

DAVE
Pretty old...

JOE
And that hull. I'll bet its 500 years old
and not a spot of corrosion on it. I'm
telling you, you're lucky! It's a
coincidence you two fellas coming in,
needing a lifeboat and sitting right
here, waiting for you. Like you were made
for each other is this baby

ARNOLD
Well, she certainly does seem rather
nice? What do you think about it Dave?

DAVE
It does look pretty good. Its about what
we need for the ocean survey work on
Trident.. but you know Joe

JOE
Oh, they just don't build them this way
anymore! Look at that propulsion unit ?
you couldn't dent it with a trip hammer.
And note the capacity of the cooling
system

DAVE
It looks good, but some of these old
machines... you know I just want to make
absolutely sure that its safe.

JOE
Safe! Ha ha. Safe... He asks me if its
safe!

DAVE
Is it?

JOE
Oh, Well. Step inside.

A Door opens

JOE (CONT'D)
Go ahead, step inside.

(footsteps)
All right, push that button... right
there on the instrument panel.

DAVE
This one?

A BUTTON IS PUSHED, A BUZZER

SHIP
I am lifeboat 324A

DAVE
Hey! The darn thing talks!

ARNOLD
Yeah! And in English too!

JOE
Its equipped with a universal translator!
Its completely automatic.
I told you they just don't build them
this way anymore. Go ahead, push the
button again.

BUZZER

SHIP
I Am lifeboat 324A.. My primary purpose
is to preserve those within me from peril
and to maintain them in good health. At
present I am only partially activated.

JOE
Could anything be safer? This is no
senseless hunk of metal. This boat will
look after you! This boat cares!

DAVE
I don't know... the idea of an emotional
machine gets me. I can't even stand those
robot maitre'd' s... They keep slobbering
over you every time you go into a
restaurant with their tubes just pouring
kindness and consideration...

ARNOLD
Oh, you're a reactionary. We'll take it!

JOE
You won't be sorry. Boys, you just
bought yourself a lifeboat.

MUSIC

DAVE (V.O.)
Joe delivered us assurances in a frank
and open tone that helped make him a
millionaire a several times over. It
wasn't that he was dishonest, far from
it. But all the flotsam he collected from
anywhere the universe worked, but ancient
machines, often had their own ideas on
how a job should be done. They tend to
get peevish when they get forced into
another routine.

LOADING SOUNDS

ARNOLD
Well, there she goes. Lifeboat 324A. I
got her down in the afterhold. I think
she's in perfect condition. Y'know, its
just what we need for those oceans on
Trident.

DAVE
I hope so... the last thing I bought from
Joe was an electric razor, only it turned
out it came from Denon 3, where they are
slightly reptilian, and an electric razor
is used to help them change their skin in
the hot months. If you remember I was in
the hospital three months, and after the
skin grafts, I don't know my ear from my
elbow.

MUSIC

DAVE (V.O.) (CONT'D)
This job we were on was to survey the
planet Trident for a real estate
speculator who bought it for subdivision.
Trident was about the size of mars, but
with a far better climate. There was no
native indigenous population, no
poisonous plants and no germ borne
diseases. As a matter of fact, apart
from one small island and one small polar
ice cap, the whole planet was covered
with water. There was no real shortage
of land, you could wade across some of
Trident's several seas. Our Firm was
hired to survey and pan a little mountain
raising because the sector council
frowned on selling building lots under
four feet of water. We landed on Trident
and launched the lifeboat.

STEPS

ARNOLD
OK, I got the sandwiches and the water.
Ready to cast off?

DAVE
Aye, aye sir. All mooring lines are on
board.

ARNOLD
All right, let's crank this swan boat up
and get going.

DAVE
Well, push that button.

ARNOLD
Heh. Aye aye.

SHIP
I am lifeboat 324A.. My primary purpose
is to preserve those within me from peril
and to maintain them in good health. At
present, I am only partially activated.
For full activity, press button 2.

DAVE
Well, there it is right next to the first
one

HUMMING and WHIRRING

ARNOLD
Well, something's going on back there.
Sounds like motors warming up.

BUZZER ALARM

ARNOLD (CONT'D)
Hey, that sounds like a short circuit
somewhere. You know there's no wheel on
this thing?

DAVE
Oh, wait a minute, there's gotta be some
sort of tiller or control....

ARNOLD
Well, you look! That's all there are,
two buttons...

DAVE
Well, maybe she controls telepathically.
I'll try it. Hey, uh, 324A, go ahead
slowly.

CHAIN GRINDING AND MOTION

DAVE (CONT'D)
Ah, there she goes. That's it.
Starboard a little

CHAINS

ARNOLD
Now wait a minute, I still don't like the
sound of it. I bet there's a short
somewhere I'm gonna go down and take a
look at it with a circuit tester.

DAVE
Don't louse anything up. I like a boat
that works this way. Gives me a sense of
power. Hey, 324A, full speed ahead!

MUSIC

DAVE (V.O.) (CONT'D)
Arnold disappeared into the bilge with a
circuit tester and I handled the survey.
Actually, our machines did all the work,
tracing the major faults along the ocean
bottom, locating the most promising
volcanoes, and when the survey was
complete, the next phase was turned over
to the subcontractor. He would wire the
volcanoes, seed the faults and touch the
whole thing off. After that, there'd be
enough dry land on trident for anybody.
About mid-afternoon I figured we could
knock off for a while, we ate our
sandwiches, took a drink of water from
the canteen and then had ourselves a swim
in Trident's clear green water.

SWIMMING SOUNDS

DAVE (CONT'D)
Hey, give me a hand up. That was very
refreshing!

ARNOLD
Oh yeah... I'll have to get this grease
off with sandpaper, but I think I found
the trouble. You see the leads from the
primary activator have been removed and
the power cable's been cut.

DAVE
Why would anyone do that?

ARNOLD
It could be part of the
decommissioning... but I got it hooked up
now. Go ahead hit the second button.

DAVE
OK, here she goes.

BUZZER, Whirring., high pitched squeal.

SHIP
I am lifeboat 324A, I am now fully
activated and am able to protect my
occupants from danger. Have faith in me.
My action response tapes, both
psychological and physical. have been
prepared by the best scientific minds in
all Drone.

ARNOLD
Ah, That's more like it, huh? Gives you
a feeling of uh confidence doesn't it?

DAVE
I suppose so. But where's Drone?

ARNOLD
Dunno.

SHIP
Gentlemen: try to think of me not as
unfeeling mechanism, but as your friend
and comrade in arms. I understand how
you feel. You have seen your ship go
down.

DAVE
Huh?

SHIP
Cruelly riddled by the unshakable H'gin.

DAVE
What ship? What's he talking about?

SHIP
You have crawled aboard me, dazed,
gasping from the poisonous fumes of
water. Half dead...

ARNOLD
Oh no? Wait a minute You mean that swim
we took? Oh no, we were just
surveying...

SHIP
Half dead, shocked, wounded. Morale low.
You were a little frightened perhaps, as
well you might be, separated from the
Drone fleet and adrift on an alien
planet.
A little fear is nothing to be ashamed of
gentlemen, for this is war, and war is a
cruel business, and we have no
alternative but to drive the H'gin
across space.

DAVE
There must be a reasonable explanation
for this

ARNOLD
Probably an old television script got
mixed up in its response banks.

DAVE
We better give it a complete overhaul. We
can't listen to that stuff all day.

ARNOLD
Well, we're about a quarter mile from the
island... ah, I'll tell ya what, I'll go
down and clean the goo out of the
contacts when we get there.

WHINE DOWN

DAVE
Hey! What's going on?

ARNOLD
We're stopping!

DAVE
Hey! Hey, Lifeboat!

SHIP
Quiet. Calm. Trust in me. I am scanning
the island.

ARNOLD
What's he talking about? Scanning the
island?

DAVE
Ssh. Better humor him.

ARNOLD
Lifeboat, that island's OK, we, we, we
checked it personally.

SHIP
Perhaps you did, but in modern lighting
quick warfare, Drone senses cannot be
trusted.
They are too limited, too prone to
interpret what they wish. Electronic
senses, on the other hand, are
emotionless. Eternally vigilant and
infallible within their limits.

ARNOLD
But there wasn't anything there!

SHIP
I perceive a foreign space ship on the
island

DAVE
Oh, that's our ship.

SHIP
It has no Drone markings.

ARNOLD
Well, it hasn't any enemy markings
either. I painted it myself.

SHIP
In war, we must assume that what is not
ours is the enemies.

DAVE
Oh...

SHIP
I understand your desire to set foot on
land again, but I take into account
factors that a Drone, motivated by his
emotions, would overlook. Consider the
apparent emptiness of the strategic bit
of land. The unmarked space ship -- put
temptingly out for bait. The fact that
our fleet is no longer in this
vicinity...

DAVE
All right, all right, that's enough. I
am tired of arguing with you. Go
directly to that island! That's an order.

SHIP
I am sorry. I cannot follow that order.
You are unbalanced from your harrowing
escape from death.

ARNOLD
All right, all right, enough of this
nonsense. I'm just gonna take that
cutoff switch --

BUZZING and YELLING

ARNOLD (CONT'D)
Ow! Ow! Ow!

SHIP
Come to your senses, gentlemen. Only the
decommissioning officer is empowered to
turn me off. For your own safety, I must
warn you, not to touch any of my
controls. You are mentally unbalanced.
Later, when our position is safer, I ill
administer to you, but now, my full
energies must be devoted to detection...
and escape from the enemy.

BELL RINGS, MORE WHIRRING

DAVE
Where we going?

SHIP
To rejoin the drone fleet! As soon as I
can find it.

MUSIC

DAVE (V.O.)
We sailed over the empty seas of Trident
for the rest of the afternoon and far
into the night. At about midnight we sat
in the cabin sharing our last sandwich.
The lifeboat was still rushing madly over
the waves, its every electronic sense
alert, searching for a fleet that had
existed 500 years ago upon an entirely
different planet.

WHIRRING

ARNOLD
Oh, why didn't I pack more sandwiches?
You ever hear of these Drones?

DAVE
Yeah, vaguely. They were non-human,
lizard evolved creatures.
They lived on the sixth planet of some
little system near, uh, Cappella. Their
race died out over a century ago.

ARNOLD
M-hm. And the H'gin? What about them?

DAVE
Also lizards, same story. Wasn't a very
important war, Y'know... all the
combatants are gone except this lifeboat
apparently ...

ARNOLD
..and us! We've been drafted as Drone
soldiers. Think we could reason with this
tub?

DAVE
Ahhh, no... I don't see how. As far as
this boat is concerned the war is still
on. It can only interpret data in terms
of that premise.

ARNOLD
Its probably listening in on us now.

DAVE
No, no. I don't think so.

ARNOLD
Oh?

DAVE
See, it's not really a mind reader. Its
perception sensors are geared only to
thoughts aimed specifically at it.

ARNOLD
Yessiree, they sure don't build this way
anymore... boy, if I could get my hands
on Joe...

DAVE
Well, you know.. it's actually a very
interesting situation. The machine is
acting very logically upon no longer
existent conditions. Therefore, you
could say, that the machine is the, uh,
well, victim of a systemized delusion.

ARNOLD
You mean the lifeboat is just plain
insane?

DAVE
No, I believe paranoia is the correct
designation. Ah, but, it'll end pretty
soon.

ARNOLD
Why?

DAVE
Its obvious! The boat's prime objective
is to keep us alive. Our sandwiches are
gone and our only other food is on the
island. I figure we'll have to take a
chance and go back.

SHIP
Gentleman, at present, I am unable to
locate the Drone fleet. Therefore, I am
turning back to scan he island again.
Fortunately, there are no enemies in the
immediate area, so I can devote myself to
your care.

DAVE
Oh, you see, its about time you got
around to us! We're hungry.

ARNOLD
Feed us!

SHIP
Of course immediately.

CAN OPENING SOUNDS.

SHIP (CONT'D)
There you are. On the tray.

ARNOLD
What's that?

DAVE
It looks like clay?

SNIFFING SOUNDS

DAVE (CONT'D)
Oh... it smells like machine oil! Hey,
what's it supposed to be?

SHIP
That is Giesel. It's the staple diet of
the drone people. I can prepare it in 16
different ways.

DAVE
Oh... Try it.

ARNOLD
All right... ooh! It takes like clay
covered in machine oil! We can't eat
that!

SHIP
Of course you can! An adult drone
consumes 5 point 3 pounds of Giesel a
day and cries for more!

ARNOLD
Look here. We are not drones, we are
humans, an entirely different species!
The war you think you're fighting ended
500 years ago. We can't eat Giesel, our
food is on the island!

SHIP
Ah yes. Your delusion is a common one
among fighting men. It is an escape
fantasy... a retreat from an intolerable
situation. Gentlemen, I beg you, face
reality.

ARNOLD
You face reality, or I will have you
dismantled bolt by bolt!

SHIP
Threats do not disturb me. I know what
you've been through. And possible you
suffered some brain damage from your
exposure to poisonous water.

ARNOLD
Poisonous?!?

DAVE
To Drones.

SHIP
If absolutely necessary, I am also
equipped to perform physical brain
therapy. It is a drastic measure, but
there can be no coddling in time of war.

THWACK, THWACK. KNIVES COME OUT.

SHIP (CONT'D)
You see, you need not worry all my
scalpels are razor sharp and ready for
immediate action.

DAVE
Oh, scalpels, huh? Well, we're feeling
better already! That's a fine looking
batch of Giesel isn't it Arnold?

ARNOLD
Oh, uh, uh delicious...

SHIP
Nothing is too good for our boys in
uniform. Do try a little.

DAVE
Oh, that's wonderful it (chokes)
delicious.

SHIP
Good, I am moving towards the island, and
I promise you, in a little while, , you
will be more comfortable.

ARNOLD
Why?

SHIP
The temperature here is unbearably hot.
It is amazing you haven't gone into a
coma. Any other drone would have, Soon,
I will have it down to Drone norm of 20
degrees below zero. And now, I will play
our national anthem.

ELECTRIONCA SOUNDS AND GRUNTS.

MUSIC

DAVE
Arnold?

ARNOLD
(pissed) )
What?

DAVE
I'm cold.

ARNOLD
Well, you should be very comfortable.
Drones live at 20 below zero. We're
Drones and no backtalk!

DAVE
Those cooling tubes are all frosted up.

ARNOLD
Yeah, I just wrote my name in the frost
on the porthole. Hey, wait a minute I
have an idea.... follow my lead.

DAVE
Why not? Lead on, fellow Drone.

ARNOLD
Ah, give me the canteen.

SHIP
What... are you doing?

ARNOLD
Uh, just going to get a little exercise.
Heh heh. Gotta stay fit you know.

SHIP
That is true.

ARNOLD
Uh, Here ya are boy, catch!

DAVE
Look out, that canteen's heavy

ARNOLD
Aw, just throw it right back, boy, just
heave it right in. C'mon! Lemme see your
curve.

SHIP
Be careful with that receptacle! It is
filled with a deadly poison. Water.

ARNOLD
Oh, we'll be careful, ooh, here we go!

CRASH!

DAVE
Bad shot, old man.

ARNOLD
Oh, how careless of me, I seemed to have
broken the cooling tubes. Cooling fluid
all over the floor.

SHIP
I should have taken precaution against
internal accidents. It will not happen
again. But, the situation is very
serious. I cannot repair the cooling
tube myself, I'm unable to properly cool
the boat.

ARNOLD
Say... that's tough. Now, if you'll just
drop us on the island

SHIP
That is impossible. My first duty is to
preserve your lives. And you couldn't
live long of the climate of this planet.
But I am going to take necessary
precautions to ensure your safety.

DAVE
What are you going to do?

SHIP
There is no time to waste. I will scan
the island once more. If our Drone
forces are not present, we will go to the
one place on the planet that can sustain
Drone life...

DAVE
What place?

SHIP
The southern polar ice cap. The climate
there is almost ideal. 30 degrees below
zero.

BUZZING and WHIRRING

SHIP (CONT'D)
And, of course... I must guard against
any further internal accidents,

CLANG

SHIP (CONT'D)
So, I will lock you gentlemen in the
cabin.

MUSIC STINGER

ARNOLD
Think!

DAVE
I am thinking! Nothing is coming out.

ARNOLD
We gotta get off when he reaches the
island, it'll be our last chance.

DAVE
Now, look, we know his internal scanning
isn't very good... when we reach the
island, maybe we could cut his power
cable.

ARNOLD
Oh, you couldn't get within 5 feet of it.
He's got an electric charge on all the
controls.

SHIP
I am now scanning the island.

ARNOLD
Uh, place looks fine today.

DAVE
Sure does! I'll bet our forces are dug
in underground.

SHIP
They are not. I scan to a depth of 100
feet.

DAVE
Well, uh, under the circumstances, I
think we should examine it a little more
carefully.

SHIP
It is deserted. I cannot let you
endanger your lives by going ashore.
Drone needs her soldiers. Especially
sturdy heat resistant types like you.

ARNOLD
We like this climate!

SHIP
Spoken like a patriot. I know you musty
be suffering, but now I am going to the
South Pole to give you veterans the rest
you deserve.

DAVE
Wait a minute, you don't understand.
We're operating under special orders. We
weren't supposed to disclose them to any
vessel below the rank of Super
Dreadnought. We're a suicide squad

ARNOLD
Yes! Yes! That's right Especially trained
for hot climate war.

DAVE
Our orders are to land and secure that
island for the Drone forces.

SHIP
I didn't know that.

DAVE
You weren't supposed to! After all,
you're only a lifeboat!

ARNOLD
Land us at once!

SHIP
I couldn't guess you know... All right.
We'll head for the island.

BUZZER. WHIRRING

DAVE
Arnold, its going to work!

ARNOLD
Why not? As long as we tell him the
truth...

DAVE
The beach is only 50 yards away.

CLANGING, SLOWING

SHIP
No. No.

DAVE
No what?

SHIP
I cannot do it.

ARNOLD
Whattyamean? This is war. Orders!

SHIP
I know, but I cannot obey. A different
type of vessel should have been chosen
for this mission. But not, a lifeboat.

DAVE
You must think of our country! Think of
the barbaric H'gin!

SHIP
It is electronically impossible for me to
carry out your orders. My prime
directive is to protect my occupants from
harm. That order is stamped on my every
tape, giving priority above all others. I
cannot go to your certain death.

BUZZING

DAVE
You'll be court martialled for this! I
will have you busted down to a dingy!

SHIP
I regret to say I must operate within my
limitations. I must take you to the
safety of the South Pole.

ARNOLD
Listen you crazy tin can, let me at those
controls.

SHOCKS and YELLING

ARNOLD (CONT'D)
Ow! Ow! Ow!

SHIP
Please do not attempt any more
destruction. I know how you feel.

DAVE
Wait a minute, Arnold, old friend. Since
we cannot accomplish our mission, we
cannot ever again face our comrades.
Death before dishonor. Hand me the
canteen.

SHIP
No! Don't! That's water! It is a
deadly poison. Don't! Don't!

DRINKS and SIGHS

DAVE
Too late. Arnold, its your turn

ARNOLD
We who are about to die, salute you.

ARNOLD drinks

DAVE
We die for glorious Drone!

FALLS

ARNOLD
That goes for me too!

SHIP
Speak to me! Speak to me!

DAVE
Stay still, will you?

SHIP
there is no known antidote. If only I
could contact the hospital ship. Speak
to me. Are you still alive. Answer me.
Here!

FOOD SOUNDS

SHIP (CONT'D)
Here. Perhaps if you eat some Giesel.
(pause.)
Dead. Dead. Dead. I will now read the
burial service. Great Spirit of the
Universe, take into your custody the
souls of these, your servants. Although
they died by their own hand, still it was
in the service of their country.
Fighting for home and hearth.
Judge them not harshly for their
impetuous deed, rather blame the spirit
of war that inflames and destroys the
spirit of all Drones.

DRAGGING SOUNDS

SHIP (CONT'D)
And now, by the authority vested in me,
by the Drone Fleet and with all
reverence, I commend their bodies to the
deep. Accept them, O Ocean, for many
brave hearts are at slumber in the deep.

ARNOLD
Why is the lifeboat sticking around?

DAVE
Just be happy the Drones didn't believe
in cremation.

WATER SPLASHING.

SHIP
Sleep quietly brave spirits. I will now
play the Drone National Anthem.

DAVE
Well.. there she goes.

ARNOLD
Where?

DAVE
To the south pole.. to wait for the drone
fleet!