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Volume 1, Issue 8
"Stand By For Mars!"
August 2006
If the wealth hasn't been spread your way, find what you need on Ebay.

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.)

Lights Out

The Chicken Heart


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Contains Bill Cosby's famous Chicken Heart routine


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Hans Conried biography

Announcer

Gong

Lights Out...everybody.

Tolling bell

A whisper, very slowly: ''It...is ...later... than ...you... think.''

Bell tolling

Gong

Explosion

Sound of someone dialing

Over voices


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Lewis

Hello? Hello, operator? Give me Mr. Regan, fast!

Over siren.

Hello, Mr. Regan? This is Lewis.

Over murmuring voices

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!

Siren

I tell you its the truth, you've got to believe me!

...

Dr. Calvin

You've got to believe me! I tell you the only hope is to burn the building to the ground at once!

Official

Now wait a minute, doc, wait a minute. Take it easy.

Dr. Calvin

I tell you burn it to the ground. Burn...!

Official

And I tell you, take it easy. I sent in a call to...


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Fiction: Two O'Clock Eastern War Time

Dr. Calvin

(Very quietly, enunciating every word)

Don't you understand?! For some reason I cannot even imagine this tissue is doubling in size every hour.

Over voices.

Do you know what that means? In another hour it will be twice the size it is now.

Over siren

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.

Falling timbers etc. as building is destroyed.

Voices.

I tried to warn you. ---Very quietly.

Over heartbeat.

Now it is too late. -- Very quietly.

The heart is free. -- Very very quietly

Heartbeats


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Mayor and others

Voices.

Gentlemen. Over banging of gavel. Gentlemen, come to order, please! Gentleman!

Quiet, quiet, please! Please! Please, now. As mayor no one realizes more than I do the necessity of immediate action in curbing this unspeakable and unbelievable emergency!

Voices.

Now, I assure you..

Voice calling from rear of room. Cut the speeches, Mac! That blasted thing is spreading like a forest fire.

Over voices.

Call the Governor! Get the National Guard out! Do something!

Hammer of gavel.

Wait! Wait, wait, please. Here is Dr. Calvin of the Research Institute. Perhaps he..

Step over here, doctor. You've got to do something!

See what he says..

Dr. Calvin

Gentlemen, it was in my Institute that this horror began, and if you'll give me a chance, perhaps I can stop it.

Voice

What is it, Doctor? Tell us first what that monster really is!

Dr. Calvin

Yes! Yes, I will tell you. That great, ever-growing mass of flesh...it is, or it was, a chicken heart.

Mayor

Chicken heart? Are you crazy man ...VOICES crying out, Chicken heart?

Voices

Dr. Calvin

Listen to me, you fools!

Voice

..he doesn't know what he's talking about...


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Dr. Calvin

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.


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National Guard

Sirens

National Guard

...covering entire houses.

We'll flood that thing with water from all angles.

All right, here's the signal.

Gun shot.

Open the locks. Turn it!

Sound of water rushing.

Chief, look out! That flesh is..

Get back everybody! Everybody back!

Voices murmuring

Heartbeats.

Dr. Calvin

The fools. What good is water? I told them. The only hope is artitllery. Bang.


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Army

Beeps

All National Guardsmen report to your armories. All National Guardsmen, report to your armories

General mobilization

Sirens

All over heartbeats

There is its position, sir.

Get ready to fire one round.

Ten...five...zero.

Commence firing!

Fire!

Sound of artillery shells and sirens.

Dr. Calvin

Useless. It has grown too large, and it grows too quickly. The flesh is already engulfing the guns. They came to late.

Heartbeats

Lewis

(All dialogue over sound of plane engine)

You all right now, Calvin?

Dr. Calvin

Yes. Yes, I'm all right, Mr. Lewis. I'm all right.

Lewis

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.

Dr. Calvin

Yes. I saw.

Lewis

Five thousand feet. Well, we'll cruise around up here for a few minutes, then head west.

Dr. Calvin

It will do no good.

Lewis

You can't mean it! It...it must stop growing sometime! It must!


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Dr. Calvin

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...

Lewis

Stop it! Stop talking like that! We'll get away! The government, they'll send bombing planes, poison gas!!!


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Dr. Calvin

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.

Lewis

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.

The engines!

Over sound of engines driving toward ground

They've cut out! We're in a spin! I can't get out of it....!

Dr. Calvin

I told you. Doomed!

Lewis

No! No!

Dr. Calvin

All mankind. Doomed.

Lewis

Noooooooooooo! We're flying right into it! Into the heart!

Scream

Heartbeats.

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