The Thunder Child - Radio Drama Sourcebook Lights Out - "The Chicken Heart"
Lights Out was a horror/science fiction anthology that began in 1934 under the aegis of Wyllis Cooper. In 1936 Arch Oboler took over production duties, and the program lasted until 1947. (It would be produced for radio from 1947-1949).
Lights Out is most memorable for having really graphic special effects sounds...human beings being turned inside out, etc.
One of the most famous episodes was "The Chicken Heart," in which a tiny piece of chicken heart has been kept alive in a laboratory, until it starts to grow, and grow, and grow...until it consumes the world.
Hans Conried stars as Dr. Calvin, the scientist who was experimenting on a chicken heart, before it became the chicken heart. A cautionary tale, which more scientists today would do well to consider.
It is not that 'man was not meant to know,' but that 'man doesn't care about the consequences of what he's doing!' Conried gives a terrific performance in this show. In dramatic roles Conried's voice is cultured and quite as distinctive as when he goes over the top in his comedy roles (and is most famous for The Five Thousand Fingers of Dr. T and the voice of Captain Hook in Peter Pan.)
This transcription was taken from a tape called "Golden Radio Dramas."
Transcription (Originally appeared at The Friends of Mr. Cairo, a Thunder Child sponsored website.)
The Chicken Heart
Contains Bill Cosby's famous Chicken Heart routine
Listen, get me a rewrite man, the thing's still growing. No, chief, I tell you the truth, the corridor's choked with living, crawling flesh! No, no, no, I'm not drunk, I'm telling you the truth! That little piece of flesh has grown until now its jamming that building! All inside the space of an hour! You've got to believe me! It's the greatest news story of the generation and here you argue with me!
I tell you its the truth, you've got to believe me!
You've got to believe me! I tell you the only hope is to burn the building to the ground at once!
Now wait a minute, doc, wait a minute. Take it easy.
I tell you burn it to the ground. Burn...!
And I tell you, take it easy. I sent in a call to...
Don't you understand?! For some reason I cannot even imagine this tissue is doubling in size every hour.
Do you know what that means? In another hour it will be twice the size it is now.
And long before that it will break open the building with the force of its flesh! And then it will be free in the streets! Free in the streets! And then those...those tentacles or protoplasms stretching out to feed on anything they can reach....
Siren. Voices grow louder.
The building! See the walls! Now! I warned you! I warned you.
I tell you that mass of flesh was a chicken heart...the tissue of which for some reason is undergoing constant, rapid, accelerating growth. With every passing hour its growth is doubling. Do you know what that means? If it is now one block in size, within thirty hours that cannibal flesh will have increased in size to one square block to the thirtieth power. VOICE RISES. In thirty hours every inch of this whole city will be crushed under that moving flesh. Within sixty hours it will have covered the entire state. Within two weeks the entire United States. You ask for the National Guard. I say call out the entire army. Blast this thing off the earth.
All National Guardsmen report to your armories. All National Guardsmen, report to your armories
All over heartbeats
There is its position, sir.
Get ready to fire one round.
Sound of artillery shells and sirens.
Useless. It has grown too large, and it grows too quickly. The flesh is already engulfing the guns. They came to late.
(All dialogue over sound of plane engine)
You all right now, Calvin?
Yes. Yes, I'm all right, Mr. Lewis. I'm all right.
Well, I sure am glad I located you. I stalled as long as I could. Another ten minutes and we couldn't have taken off. That blasted protoplasm or whatever it is was sucking at the wheels by the time we left the ground.
Yes. I saw.
Five thousand feet. Well, we'll cruise around up here for a few minutes, then head west.
It will do no good.
You can't mean it! It...it must stop growing sometime! It must!
Look at it down there. A gray blanket of evil, covering everything. See how the roads are black with men and women and their children, running for their lives! See how the protoplasm barely reaches out and engulfs them. See...
Stop it! Stop talking like that! We'll get away! The government, they'll send bombing planes, poison gas!!!
No. No hope. Listen to me, Lewis. You remember only a handful of days ago you asked me my prophecy of the end of the earth? You remember my answer? Oh, such a fallacy prophecy. Cessation of the earth's rotation, mighty sounds of astronomical theories, but now, this is the reality of it. The end has come for humanity. Not in the love of atomic fusion. Not in the glory of interstellar combustion. Not in the winds of white cold pilings. But in cells. That creeping, grasping flesh below us.
Over the tears of Lewis.
This is a joke. Eh, Lewis? The joke of the cosmos. The end of mankind. Because of a chicken heart.
No! No, we won't die! I can't die! I'll find a safe landing somewhere! I'll find a place!
Sound of engine cutting out.
Over sound of engines driving toward ground
They've cut out! We're in a spin! I can't get out of it....!
I told you. Doomed!
All mankind. Doomed.
Noooooooooooo! We're flying right into it! Into the heart!