|Things To Come | HISTORY Page | Obituary Page ||
A Street in Everytown : the year 1940.
EVERYTOWN is every town. It is backed by a very characteristic skyline of hills which recurs throughout the film to remind us that we are following the fate of one typical population group, and it has a central " place," a big Market Square with big hotels, public buildings, cinemas, kiosks, statuary, tramways, etc.
First, there is a general view of Everytown from a crest above it. In the foreground we see workers going down the hill into the town and down the hill we see the whole of Everytown, suburbs, and Central Square together; it is a clear Christmas Eve.
Then we come to the Central Square in Everytown. It has features recalling Trafalgar Square or a big town Market Square or a French Grand Place. There is a confluence of trams and buses. The Christmas traffic is active. On one of the chief buildings the moving light sign of a newspaper flashes the latest news. " Europe is arming . . . ."
The camera moves up from the traffic of the Square to this light sign: " Alarming speech by Air Minister"
Big shop window full of Christmas toys. Children and mothers admiring.
A bus stops and people get out of it. On the bus one sees the usual newspaper posters with a glaring headline about the dangerous international situation. " Straits dispute. Acute situation."
The entrance of a tube station. The usual traffic. A newsvendor stands at the entrance. His placard reads: " Another 10,000 aeroplanes." But he shouts, " All the winners."
In a bus a young girl opens her paper and glances through the first page, which is full of headlines talking about the war danger.
During all these scenes Christmas shoppers and people with packages pass to and fro. It is a peaceful and fairly happy Christmas shopping crowd. Nobody appears to be affected imaginatively by the war danger. The voice has called " Wolf " too often. Only the camera calls attention to the brooding threat.
Call to Arms
THE scene changes to one of Everytown's scientific laboratories. Young Harding, a student of two and twenty, is working intently. It is a small, reasonably well-equipped municipal school laboratory looking out on the Central Square. It is a biological, not a chemical, laboratory.
Through the open window comes the bellowing of the newsvendor. " War crisis ! " Harding listens for a moment : " Damn this war nonsense." He closes the window to shut out the sound. He looks at his watch and sets himself to put things away.
At first he is wearing a neat laboratory overall. This he takes off.
He goes out into a suburban residential road with little traffic. There are many pleasant detached homes.
Harding approaches a house through a garden gate. He walks into the rather dark study where John Cabal is musing over a newspaper. The furniture of the room indicates his connection with flying. There is the blade of a propeller over the mantel shelf and a model on the shelf. On the table are some engineering drawings partly covered by the newspaper.
Cabal's arm, with wrist-watch, is resting on the evening paper. He has a habit of drumming with his fingers which is shown here and again later. The camera comes up to the hand and paper.
The headlines show :
" EVENING NEWSLETTER "
Cabal ponders. He looks towards the door. Harding approaches Cabal. He sees the paper and the headlines.
Cabal: " Hullo, young Harding You're early."
Harding: " I had finished up. It was too late to begin anything fresh. Why are the newsboys shouting so loud? What is all this fuss in the papers to-night, Mr. Cabal?"
Cabal: " Wars and rumours of war again."
Harding: " Crying wolf ?"
Cabal : " Some day the wolf will come. These fools are capable of anything."
Harding: " What becomes of medical research in that case?"
Cabal: " It will have to stop."
Harding: " That will mess me up. It's pretty nearly all I care for. That and Marjorie Home, of course."
Cabal : " Mess you up ! Of course it will mess you up. Mess up your work. Mess up your marriage. Mess everything up. My God, if war gets loose again. . . ."
Cabal and Harding turn towards the door as Passworthy walks in.
Passworthy : " Hullo, Cabal ! Christmas again ! " (Sings.) " While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground. . . ."
Cabal nods at the paper. Passworthy takes it up and throws it down with disdain.
Passworthy : " What's the matter with you fellows ? Oh, this little upset across the water doesn't mean war. Threatened men live long. Threatened wars don't occur. Another speech by him. Nothing in it. I tell you. Just to buck people up over the Air Estimates. Don't meet war half-way. Look at the cheerful side of things. You're all right. Business improving, jolly wife, pretty house."
Cabal : " All's right with the world, eh? All's right with the world. Passworthy, you ought to be called Pippa Passworthy.. . .. "
Passworthy : " You've been smoking too much. Cabal. Youyou aren't eupeptic . . ." (Walks round and sings.) " No-el ! No-el! . . ."
LATER the scene is the suburban road outside John Cabal's house. Various clocksone after another are heard striking midnight. Cabal's door opens. Cabal, Mrs. Cabal, Harding, and Passworthy come out. Christmas bells are heard.
A faint thud. Everybody is silent for a moment.
Mrs. Cabal : " What was that ? It sounded like a gun."
Passworthy : " No guns about here Merry Christmas, Cabalgood luck to us for another twelvemonth. The last wasn't so bad. Here's to another year of recovery."
Suddenly searchlights appear in the sky silhouetting the hill crest. The group at the door observe the searchlights and turn questioningly towards one another.
Mrs. Cabal : " But what are searchlights doing now ? "
Passworthy: " Anti-aircraft manoeuvres, I expect."
Cabal : "Manoeuvres ! At Christmas? No !"
Three thuds rather louder mingle with the pealing bells.
Harding: " Listen ! Guns again."
The bells cease abruptly. The sound of distant guns becomes quite distinct.
The groupmute suspense. Heavy concussion heard.
After this the noise subsides as though the trouble was drifting away from Everytown. Nobody speaks. From the study the telephone rings. Cabal turns and hurries back into the house.
From the house there comes Cabal's voice: "What, to-nightthree o'clock at the Hilltown hangar? I'll be there."
Cabal comes out again to the listening group. " Mobilisation !"
Mrs. Cabal : " Ohoh. God !"
Passworthy : " Perhaps it's only a precautionary mobilisation."
Cabal turns and goes into the house. The others follow.
In Cabal's study the group listen to a radio announcer.
Radio : " The unknown aircraft passed over Seabeach and dropped bombs within a few hundred yards of the waterworks. They then turned seaward again. By this time they had been picked up by the searchlights of the battleship Dinosaur, and before they could mount out of range she had opened upon them with her anti-aircraft guns. Unfortunately without result."
Passworthy : "That'sthat's alarming, certainly."
Harding: " Of course everyone has said, 'This time there will be no declaration of war.' "
Mrs. Cabal : "Listen !"
The radio resumes, crackling: " We do not yet know the nationality of these aircraft, though, of course, there can be little doubt of their place of origin. But before all things it is necessary for the country to keep calm. No doubt the losses suffered by the fleet are serious.
" And it is imperative that the whole nation should at once stand to arms. Orders for a general mobilisation have been issued and the precautionary civilian organisation against gas will at once be put into operation. Ahinstructions have come to hand. We shall cut off for five minutes and then read you the general instructions. Please call in any friends. Call in everyone you can."
They all look at each other.
Passworthy (to Harding) : " I suppose we shall find our marching orders at home. Nothing to do now but get on with it."
Mrs. Cabal : " War ! God help us all."
THE Centre Square of Everytown. Large anti-aircraft on truck comes into Square. Searchlights being mounted on a roof.
Electric signs going out.
Special service men in badges herding people to shelter.
Belated straggler running across the Square.
Searchlights break out.
Anti-aircraft gun being loaded by the light of a carefully-shaded lamp. Faces of the gunners seen closely.
All this is to be very quick and furtive. As lights go down the lighting changes to silhouette effects and the sounds diminish until at the end there is absolute silence.
The scene changes to the nursery at Cabal's home. Cabal is buttoning on his airman uniform. He looks at the sleeping children. He turns his head, tormented by the thought of their future.
Mrs. Cabal: " My dear, my dear, are you sorry wehad these children?"
Cabal thinks long. " No. Life must carry on. Why should we surrender life to the brutes and fools ?"
Mrs. Cabal : " I loved you. I wanted to serve you and make life happy for you. But think of the things that may happen to them. Were we selfish?"
Cabal draws her to him. " You weren't afraid to bear themwe were children yesterday. We are anxious, but we are not afraid. Really."
Mrs. Cabal nods acknowledgment, but cannot talk because she would cry.
Cabal : " Courage, my dear."
Whispering to himself : "And may that little heart have courage."
A series of flashes show Everytown in a belated wintry dawn.
Men come from their houses carrying parcels or suitcases and go towards the station.
A young wife saying good-bye to her husband, who is waiting for a tram.
Bus stop. Men get on the bus with their packages. A sort of forced cheerfulness.
EVERYWHERE there are signs of war preparation. In the foreground a smooth-flowing river, or lake, that reflects the scenesuddenly the mirror is broken as enormous amphibian tanks crawl up out of the water. A gigantic howitzer suddenly rears itself up from a peaceful field. Roadways choked with war material moving up to the front. Long lines of tanks and caterpillar lorries. Long lines of steel-helmeted men. Lorries full of men. Lorries full of shells. Great dumps of shells. A fantasia of war material in motion.
In a chemical factory piles of cases are being loaded.
Gas bombs are being manufactured. The workers all wear gas masks of ghoulish type.
Guns go off and there is a repetition of some of the foregoing scenesbut now the men and guns are no longer moving into action, but are in action. Guns being fired, tanks advance firing, battleships firing a broadside, gas hissing out of cylinders.
A gun crew round a gun, passing shells up to the gun.
Beneath an aeroplane a crew fixing bombs.
Squadron after squadron of aeroplanes take to the sky. Everytown is seen with hostile aeroplanes in the sky. An explosion in the foreground fills the scene. As the smoke clears it reveals the suburban road in Everytown in which Passworthy lives, and something small and dark is seen far down the footpath.
We pass up the road and before the shattered garden fence we see little Horrie Passworthy's son sprawling, dead.
A long, silent pause.
Scenes of Everytown being bombed. Sirens, whistles, and hooters. Panic working up in Square. Quick flashes of military working anti-aircraft guns. Again to crowded Square, terrified faces looking up. Increased panic. Aeroplanes overhead.
A tramcar runs down the street, it lurches and falls sideways across the street. The facade of a gigantic general store falls into the street. The merchandise is scattered and on fire. Window dummies and wounded civilians lie on the pavement.
Bomb bursting in crowded Square. Cinema crashing in ruins.
A bomb bursts a gas main, a jet of flame, the fire spreads.
Officials distributing gas masks, the crowd in a panic. Fight for masks. Official swept off his feet. Aeroplanes distribute gas like a smoke screen. The cloud slowly descends on the town. The gas cloud descends, the guns continue to fire in the darkness. People in offices and flats trapped by the gas pouring into the windows.
The Square is now very misty and dark. No civilians are moving about, but there are a few scattered dead.
IN the air an enemy airman, a boy of 19, is distributing gas. He finishes his supply and banks to turn about. He looks into the sky and discovers he is being attacked and is plainly apprehensive.
His attacker is John Cabal. Cabal's aeroplane is bearing for the enemy. A fight ensues.
It is a one-sided fight between a bomber and a swift fighter. Enemy airman crashes. Cabal nose-dives, but straightens out.
Enemy airman crashing. Houses, etc., in the background under the cloud of gas he has spread.
Cabal landing with difficulty. He looks towards enemy aeroplane and then hurries towards it. Fire breaks out in the wrecked machine as Cabal approaches it.
Cabal arrives at enemy aeroplane. Enemy airman staggers out as the flames spread. He is beating out the fire in his smouldering clothing. He staggers and falls.
Cabal helps the enemy airman, who is evidently very badly injured. He is as yet too stunned to be in anguish, but he knows he is done for. Cabal settles him fairly comfortably on the ground.
Cabal : " Is that better? My Godbut you are smashed up, my boy."
Cabal tries to make him comfortable. He desists and stares at the enemy airman with a sort of blank amazement.
" Why should we two be murdering each other? How did we come to this? "
The gas is drifting nearer to them. The enemy airman points to it. " Go, my friend ! This is my gas, and it is bad gas. Thank you."
Cabal : " But how did we come to this? Why did we let them set us killing each other ? "
The enemy airman says nothing, but his expression assents.
Cabal and the airman take their gas masks. Cabal helps the enemy airman with his mask and adjusts it. There is some difficulty due to the airman's broken arm ; Cabal desists and has to try again.
Enemy Airman : " Funny if I'm choked by my own poison."
Cabal : " That's all right."
Cabal puts the mask on and then puts his own on. They hear a cry and look up.
They see a little girl running before the gas. She is already choking and presses a handkerchief to her mouth. The girl, very distressed, runs towards them and hesitates, not knowing which way to go. She is heedless of the two men.
Enemy airman stares, then tears off his mask and holds it out to Cabal. " Hereput it on her."
Cabal hesitates, looks from one to the other.
Enemy Airman : " I've given it to otherswhy shouldn't I have a whiff myself?"
Cabal puts the mask on the girl, who resists, frightened, and then understands and submits.
Cabal : " Come on, kiddy, this is no place for you. You make tracks that way. I'll show you."
Cabal goes off with the girl and then returns to see if the enemy airman has a pistol. He realises that he has not, hesitates, and gives his own pistol to him. " You may want this."
Enemy Airman : " Good fellowbut I'll take my dose."
THE enemy airman is dying in the flickering light of his burning aeroplane. The gas is very near now. The wisps drift towards him. He looks after Cabal and the girl.
" I dropped the stuff on her. Maybe I've killed her father and mother. Maybe I've killed all her family. And then I give up my mask to save her. That's funny. Oh! that's really funny. Ha, ha, ha. Thatthat's a joke !"
The gas drifts by him and he starts to cough. He remembers Cabal's words. " What fools we airmen have been ! We've let them make us fight for them like dogs. Smashed trying to kill herand then I gave her my mask ! Oh, God ! It's funny. Ha, ha, ha."
His laugh changes to a cough of distress as the gas envelops and hides him. The cough grows fainter and fainter, and vapour blots out the scene. " I'll take it alltake it all. I deserve it."
He is heard again coughing and panting. Then comes a sharp cry, then a groan of sudden unendurable suffering.
A pistol shot is heard. Silence.
THE war goes on. The newspapers report its progress.
The Evening Newsletter, price threepence, declares on May 20, 1941 :
" PROHIBITION OF SPECULATION," " THE END IN SIGHT," and " THE RATIONING SCANDAL."
" The immense efforts and sacrifices of the Air Force during the great counter-offensive of last month," states the Newsletter, " are bearing fruit."
Then there is seen a very roughly printed newspaper.
It is printed from worn-out type and the lower lines fall away :
THE WEEKLY PATRIOT
No. 1. New Series. February 2, 1952.
Price One Pound Sterling.
DRAWING TO THE END
" It is necessary to press on with the war with the utmost determination. Only by doing so can we hope. . . ."
A third paper :
THE WEEKLY PATRIOT
No. 157. March, 1955.
Price One Pound Sterling.
THE UTMOST RESOLUTION.
A desolate heath. Something burning far away. A sheet of decaying newspaper is fluttering in the wind. It catches on a thorn and, as the wind tears at it, there is time to read the ill-printed sheet of coarse paper :
September 21, 1966.
Price Four Pounds Sterling.
" Hold on. Victory is coming. The enemy is near the breaking point. . . ."
The wind tears the scrap of paper to pieces.
THERE are scenes of desolation everywhere. The Tower Bridge of London is in ruins. There are no signs of human life.
Seagulls and crows. The Thames. partly blocked with debris, has overflowed its damaged banks.
The Eiffel Tower prostrate. The same desolation and ruin.
Brooklyn Bridge destroyed. The tangle of cables in the water. Shipping sunk in the harbour. New York, ruined, in the background.
A sunken liner at the bottom of the sea.
A pleasure sea front, Palm Beach or the Lido, Blackpool or Coney Island, in complete and final ruin. A few wild dogs wander through the desolation.
Oxford University in ruins and the Bodleian Library scattered amidst the wreckage.
The Central Square in Everytown. It is in ruins. A few ragged street vendors and a primitive market in a corner of the Square. A gigantic shell-thole is in the middle of the Square.
A group of people stand about a board on the wall. This is a notice-board like the old Album on which news was written in the Roman Forum. As the world relapses old methods reappear.
Notice on the board reads:
WARNING! A NEW OUTRAGE!
ENEMY SPREADING DISEASE
" Our enemies, defeated on land and sea and in the air, have nevertheless retained a few aeroplanes which are difficult to locate and destroy. These they are using to spread disease, a new fever of mind and body . . . "
A man in a worn and patched uniform comes out of the Town Hall with a paper in his hand and turns towards the wall. He pastes up a new cyclo-styled inscription.
The inscription, which runs a little askew, reads:
"The enemy are spreading the Wandering Sickness by aeroplane. Avoid sites where bombs have fallen. Do not drink stagnant water."
A woman comes out of a house. She is ragged and tired, a pail in her hand. She goes to the gigantic shell-hole in the middle of the square. The woman descends with her pail. She wants some of the water. A man comes into the picture.
Man: " Didn't you read the warning?"
The woman answers with a tired mute " No."
Man, indicating the water : " Wandering Sickness."
The woman is struck by instant fear. Then she hesitates. " I have to go half an hour away for spring water."
The man shrugs his shoulders and goes. The woman is still hesitating. Near by is the hospital. It is a dim, dark place. The sick are unattended. One of thema man in a dirty shirt and trousersbarefooted and haggard rises, looks about hint wildly and darts out.
He wanders into the Square outside. He stares blankly in front of him. He seeks he knows not what. People in the Square see hlm and scatter. The woman in the shell-hole discovers the wandering sick man is approaching her. She screams and scrambles away. A group of men and women run away from the sick man.
A sentry with a rifle. A group of men and women enter the picture.
Man (to sentry): " Don't you see?"
Woman : " He is carrying infection."
The sentry does not like his job, but! he lifts his rifle. He fires. The wandering man collapses, writhes and lies still.
The sentry shouts: " Don't go near him. Leave him there !"
Back to Dark Ages
IN Dr. Harding's laboratory, the doctor is at his work bench, assisted by his daughter, Mary. He is struggling desperately to work out the problem of immunity to the Wandering Sickness which is destroying mankind.
He is now a man of 50; he is overworked, jaded, aged. He is working in a partly-wrecked laboratory, with insufficient supplies. Harding's clothing is ragged and patched. His apparatus is more like an old alchemist's; it is makeshift and very inefficient.
Harding mutters as he works.
Mary is a girl of 18, dressed in a patched nurse's uniform, with a Red Cross armlet.
" Father," she says, " why don't you sleep a little?"
Harding: " How can I sleep when my work may be the saving of countless lives? countless lives!"
A shot is heard without. Harding goes to the window, followed by Mary. He sees the man with the Wandering Sickness lying dead, and remarks: "And so our sanitation goes hack to the cordon and killing! This is how they dealt with pestilence in the Dark Ages." Harding examines some preparation, and, without looking back, says: " Iodine, please."
Mary takes a step towards him. A glass or container in her hand. She looks at it and tilts it to ascertain its contents. She is unable to speak because she knows the portent of her answer.
Harding : " Mary ! iodine, please."
Mary : " There is no more, father. There is just one drop."
Harding turns back as if stabbed. " No more iodine?"
Mary replies with a shake of her head. Harding almost collapses and sits down. " My God!" He buries his head in his hands. His voice almost a sob: " What is the good of trying to save a mad world from its punishment?"
Mary : " Oh, father, if you could only sleep for a time."
Harding: " How can I sleep ? See how they wander out to die."
He rises and looks at his daughter, deeply moved. " And to think that I brought you into this world."
Mary : " Even now I am glad to be alive, father."
Harding pats her shoulder. A quick affectionate gesture. Then he walks up and down in deep mental distress.
" This is the last torment of this endless warfare. To know what life can do and beand to be helpless."
He takes the slip from under the microscope eyepiece and dashes it to the floor in impotent rage.
He sits down in utter despair.
A step on the staircase outside. They both look towards the door
Mary : " Richard !"
Richard Gordon. a former air mechanic, enters. Harding stares at him, fearing his news.
Gordon : " My sister . . . "
Harding : " Howdo youknow ?"
Gordon : " Her heart beats fast. She feels faint. And and she won't answer."
Harding says nothing.
Gordon : " What can I do for her ?"
Harding, pained, silent and beaten.
Gordon : "I thought something might be known."
Harding does not move. Mary cries : " Oh, Janet !and you, poor dear" She approaches Gordon and Gordon makes a movement as if to warn her that he may, too, be infected. She does not care. " Richard," she whispers, close to his face.
Harding rises and goes without a word. It is the doctor's instinct to try and help where everything seems hopeless.
IN Gordon's living room Janet, his sister, turns to and fro on her bed. Enter Harding, followed by Richard and Mary. Harding approaches the bed.
He pulls back the sheets, listens to Janet's breathing. Then he replaces the sheets and shakes his head. He rises from the bed. Gordon asks a mute question.
Harding: " No doubt of it. And it need not be. Oh, to think of it! There is just one point still obscure. But I cannot even get iodine nownot even iodine ! There is no more trade, nothing to be got. The war goes on. This pestilence goes onunchallengedworse than the wars that released it."
Gordon : " Is there nothing to make her comfortable?"
Harding : " Nothing. There is nothing to make anyone comfortable any more. War is the art of spreading wretchedness and misery. I remember when I was still a medical student talking to a man named Cabal about preventing war. And about the researches I would make and the ills I would cure. My God ! "
Janet rises from the bed. Her face is now ghastly white and her eyes are glassy. She comes towards Gordon and Mary. The two stare at her, horror-stricken, as she passes them. Her face advances to a close-up. She leaves the room. After a second's hesitation Gordon rises and hurries after his sister. Mary takes a few steps and then sits down.
Janet wanders in the Square. Gordon reaches her and tries to take her arm, but she shakes him off. They go towards the crowd about the noticeboard in front of the Town Hall. The crowd disperses, panic-stricken.
Janet and Gordon walking towards the sentry. The sentry lifts his rifle. Gordon protects Janet with his body. To sentry : " No! Don't shoot; I will take her out of the town."
Sentry hesitates. Janet wanders off. Gordon hesitates between the sentry and her and then follows her. Sentry turns after them, still irresolute.
Janet and Gordon wander through the ruins of Everytown. She goes on ahead feverishly, aimlessly. He follows her. We are thus given a tour through Everytown in the uttermost phase of collapse. A dead city. Rats flee before themstarveling dogs.
They pass across a deserted railway station.
Public gardens in extreme neglect. Smashed notice-boards. Fountains destroyedrailings broken down.
Suburban road with villas empty and ruinous. In the gardens are bramble-thickets and nettle-beds. Janet and Gordon pass the former house of Passworthy, recognisable by the shattered fence.
Janet drops and lies still. Gordon kneels down beside her.
At first he cannot believe she is dead. He picks her up in his arms and carries her off. He is seen far away carrying her into a mortuary.
Hooded figures come out to take her from himall very far away.
Mary waits in Gordon's room. It is now twilight and her face is very sad and still and pale. She looks towards the door when at last Gordon comes staggering in. He is the picture of misery. " Oh Mary, dear Mary," he cries.
Mary holds out her arms to him. He clings to her like a child.
It is 1970three years later.
The Square of Everytown has recovered a little from the extreme tragic desolation of the pestilence stage.
Clumsy efforts to repair ruined buildings have been made.
No shops have been reopened and half the houses are unoccupied, but the shellhole in the centre has been filled up. There is a sort of market going on with patched and ragged people haggling for vegetables and bits of meat.
Few people have boots. Most people are wearing footwear of bast and rags or sabots of wood. Few hats are worn and those old. The women are bare-headed or have shawls over their heads.
The vehicles are not rude and primitive, but old broken-down stuff. One or two boxed things with old carriage wheels or motor-car wheelswhich people push. Few or no horses. A cow or a goat being milked. There is a peasant with a motor-car (small runabout without tyres) with a lot of carrots and turnips in it, drawn by a horse.
The camera moves round to give a general view of the Square, coming to rest outside the Town Hall. A big resette flag hangs over the portico of the Town Hall. This rosette is the symbol of the ruling Boss and his government.
A small group watching a rosetted guard writing with charcoal on the wall !
At the top he has drawn and smeared a rough rosette:
Mayday A.D. 1970
The Pestilence has Ceased. Thanks to the determined action of our Chief in shooting all wanderers. There have been no cases for two months. The Pestilence has been conquered.
The Chief is Preparing to Resume Hostilities Against the Hill People with the Utmost Vigour. Soon we shall have Victory and Peace.
All is wellGod save the Chief. God save our Land.
Inside a near-by aeroplane hangar, Gordon, three years older, and in a different, rather less dishevelled costume, is working on an aeroplane engine on the bench. Behind him is the dismantled aeroplane. Two assistants with him. He examines the high-tension wires.
Gordon: " This rubber is perished. Have we any more insulated wire?"
First Assistant: " We've got no rubbered wire at all, sir."
Gordon : "Any rubber-tape?"
Second Assistant: " Not a scrap of rubber in the place. We used the last on the other motor."
Gordon slowly rises, defeated : " Oh what's the usethere's no petrol anyway. I don't believe there's three gallons of petrol left in this accursed ruin of a town. What's the good of setting me at a job like this? Nothing will ever fly again. Flying is over. Everything is over. Civilisation is dead."
LATER, Gordon and his wife, Mary, meet the Boss with his retinue in the Square. They are a semi-military brigand crew with little that is uniform about them except the prevalent rosette badges.
The Boss is a big swaggering fellow with a hat cocked an one side hearing a rosette in front of it. His frogged tunic might have belonged to a Guards bandsman. He has a sword, a dirk and two pistols. Neat riding breeches and boots. A scarf tied across his breast bears the rosette symbol. His manners might be described as the decaying civilities of a London taxi-cab driver.
Boss : " Anything to report, Gordon?"
Gordon : " Nothing very hopeful, Chief."
Boss : " We must have those planes somehow."
Gordon: " I'll do what I can, but you can't fly without petrol."
Boss : " I'll get petrol for you, trust me. You see to the engines. I know you haven't got stuffbut surely you can get round that. For example, transfer parts. Have you tried that? Use bits of one to mend the other. Be resourceful. Give me only ten in working order. Give me only five. I don't want them all. I'll see to it you get your reward. Then we can end this war of oursfor good. This your wife, Gordon? You've kept her hidden. Salutation, lady! You must use your influence with our Master Mechanic, lady. The combatant State needs his work."
Mary doesn't like the situation. " I'm sure my husband does his best for you, Chief."
Boss: " His best! That isn't enough, lady. The combatant State demands miracles."
Roxana, a consciously beautiful woman of 28, comes upon the scene. She and the Ross speak familiarly. The Ross complains to her.
" What do you think of our Master Mechanic hereWho won't give me planes to finish up that little war of ours with the hill people?"
Roxana surveys Gordon with her arms akimbo, and then considers Mary and the Boss more deliberately. She rather likes the look of Gordon. She perceives that the Boss has been showing off at Mary and she wants to take him down a little.
She speaks with a faint shrewish mockery to the Boss. " Can't you make him? I thought you could make everybody do everything."
Gordon : " Some things can't be done, Madam. You can't fly without petrol. You can't mend machines without tools or material. We've gone back too far. Flying is a lost skill in Everytown."
The 1970 Plane
SUDDENLY the throbbing of an aeroplane very far away becomes faintly audible. Gordon's face changes as the beating of the aeroplane dawns on his consciousness. He is puzzled. He looks up in the sky. He points silently. It is a small new 1970 aeroplane, with wings that curve like a swallow. There is general excitement. The eyes of the crowd follow the plane and indicate it is circling down to a descent.
The Boss is the first to become active. " What's all this? Have they got aeroplanes before us? And you tell me we can't fly any more ! While we have beenfumbling, they have been active. Here, some of you, find out who this is and what it means! You (to one of his guards), you go, and you (to another). There was only one man in it. Hold him."
THE Boss, who is the centre of activity, commands his men to bring the airman to him.
The excited people meanwhile watch the airman alight from his machine. He is John Cabal, who is now grey-haired with a lined face. He is dressed in shiny black and wears a sort of circular shield over head and body that makes him over 7ft. high. It is like a round helmet enclosing body as well as head. It is a 1970 gas-mask. The visor in front swings down, so that his head and shoulders seen from in front are suggestive of a Buddha against a circular halo. The black mask behind his head and shoulders is ribbed like a scallop-shell.
Cabal refuses to obey the command of the Boss to see him in the Town Hall, but instead goes with Harding, Gordon and Mary to the doctor's laboratory, where he learns about the Boss and his control of Everytown.
In the Town Hall the Boss has staged things for the reception of the strange airman. He sits at a vast desk. A few guards, secretaries and yes-men around him. Simon Burton, his right-hand man, sits at a side table.
Roxana watches proceedingscomes and stands close beside the Boss at his right hand. Whispers to him. She displays the excitement of a woman before a bull-fight. A lively contest is going to happen and she has an impression that the strange visitant may prove an interesting novelty. Things have been dull in Everytown lately.
The atmosphere is strained. The scene is set and the principal actor does not enter. The Boss is impatient to see Cabal and Cabal does not come. Messengers are sent and return.
Boss: " Where is this man? Why isn't he brought here?"
Everyone looks uneasy. The Boss turns to Burton.
Burton: " He has gone off with Dr. Harding."
The Boss rises. " He has to he brought here. I must deal with him."
Guards are dispatched to bring Cabal.
In Harding's laboratory the group are still talking.
Cabal : " So that's the sort of man your Boss is. Not an unusual type. Everywhere, you see, we find these little semi-military upstarts robbing, fighting. That is what endless warfare has worked out tobrigandage. What else could happen? And we, who are all that is left of the old engineers and mechanics, are turning our hands to salvage the world. We have the airways, what is left of them; we have the sea. We have ideas in common; the freemasonry of efficiencythe brotherhood of science. We are the natural trustees of civilisation when everything else has failed."
Gordon: " Oh, I have been waiting for this. I am yours to command."
Cabal : " Not mine. Not mine. No more bosses. Civilisation's to command. Give yourself to World Communications."
A knock at the door. They turn. The oafish guard comes into the room. Three others who have been sent for him by the Boss are behind. One of them says: "Tell him he's got to come. If he won't come on his feet, we'll carry him."
The First Guard: "Lord knows what will happen to me, sir, if you do not come."
Cabal shrugs his shoulders, rises, reflects, hands his great gas-mask to Gordon and stalks out, the guards following respectfully.
The gas-mask is not in evidence in the next scene.
Before "The Boss"
IN the Town Hall. The Boss at his great desk. Roxana very alert behind him. Simon Burton at his own table.
As the guard and Cabal approach, the Boss draws himself up in his chair, and attempts a lordly pose. Cabal's bearing is easy and familiar. The Boss is sturdy and ornate. Cabal tall, lean, black and dry.
Cabal : " Well, what do you want to talk to me about?"
Boss : " Who are you? Don't you know this country is at war?"
Cabal : " Dear, dear ! Still at it. We must clean that up."
Boss : " What do you mean? We must clean that up? War is war. Who are you, I say?"
Cabal pauses before he replies. "The law," he says.
He improves it : " Law and sanity."
Roxana watches him. Then looks to the Boss.
Boss, a little late: " I am the law here."
Cabal : " I said law and sanity."
Boss : " Where do you come from? What are you? "
Cabal : " Pax Mundi. Wings over the world."
Boss : " Well, you know, you can't come into a country at war in this fashion."
Cabal : "I'm, here. Do you mind if I sit down?"
He sits down and leans across the table, looking intelligently and familiarly into the face of the Boss.
" Well?" he says.
Boss: " And now for the fourth time, who are you?"
Cabal: " I tell you, WingsWings over the World."
Boss: " That's nothing. What Government are you under?"
Cabal : " Common sense. Call us Airmen if you like. We just run ourselves."
Boss: " You'll run into trouble if you land here in war-time. What's the game?"
Cabal: " Order and trade"
Boss: " Trade, eh? Can you do anything in munitions?"
Cabal: " Not our line of business."
Boss: " Petrolspare parts? We've got planeswe've got planeswe've got boys who've trained a bit on the ground. But we've got no fuel. It hampers us. We might do a deal."
Cabal reflects and looks at his toes: " We might."
Boss: " I know where I can get some fuel. Later. I've got my plans. But if you could manage a temporary accommodationwe'd do business."
Cabal: " Airmen help no one to make war."
Boss, impatiently: " End war, I said. End war. We want to make a victorious peace."
Cabal: " I seem to have heard that phrase before. When I was a young man. But it made no end to war."
Boss : " Now look here, Mr. Aviator. Let's be clear how things are. Come down to actuality. The way you swagger there, you don't seem to understand you are under arrest. You and your machine."
Mutual mute interrogation.
Cabal: " You'll get other machines looking for meif I happen to be delayed."
Boss: " We'll deal with them later. You can start a trading agency here if you like. I've no objection. And the first thing we shall want will be to have our own aeroplanes in the air again."
Cabal: " Yes. An excellent ambition. But our new order has an objection to private aeroplanes."
Roxana, softly for Boss to hear: " The impudence!"
Boss half glances at her with a faint anxiety. " I am not talking of private aeroplanes. The aeroplanes we have here are the public aeroplanes of our combatant State. This is a free and sovereign State. At war. I don't know anything about any new order. I am the chief here, and I am not going to take any ordersold or newfrom you."
Roxana asks: " Where do you come from? "
Cabal smiles and replies: " I flew from our headquarters at Basra yesterday. I spent the night at an old aerodrome at Marseilles. We are gradually restoring order and trade all over the Mediterranean. We have some hundreds of aeroplanes and we are making more, fast. We have factories at work again. I'm just scouting a bit to see how things are here."
Boss : " And you've found out. We've got order here, the old order, and we don't want anybody else restoring it, thank you. This is an independent combatant State."
Cabal: " We've got to talk about that."
Boss : " We don't discuss it."
Cabal: " We don't approve of these independent combatant States."
Boss : " You don't approve !"
Cabal: " We mean to stop them."
Boss: " That'swar."
Cabal: " As you will. My people know I'm prospecting. When they find I don't come back they'll send a force to look for me."
Boss, grimly: " Perhaps they won't find you."
Cabal shrugs his shoulders. " They'll find you."
Boss: " They'll find me ready. Well, I think we know now where we stand. You four guards take this man, and if he gives any trouble club him. Club him. You hear that, Mr. Wings over your Wits? See to it, Burton. Have him taken to the detention room downstairs."
He stands up as if dismissing the assembly.
THE scene changes to a small bare room like the waiting-room of a police station. It is poorly lit by a barred window. Cabal sits on a wooden chair with his arms on a bare table and contemplates the situation.
Cabal: " I've tumbled into a hole. It's the old old story of the over-confident wise man and the truculent rough. . . . It may be weeks before I'm reported as missing. They'll think my radio has broken down. Meanwhile Mr. Boss here does as he likes. . . ."
He contemplates the room. Stands up and stares at the window bars.
"They'll have my machine guarded. . . ."
Sits down again, laughs bitterly at himself and drums with his fingers on the table.
Then he jumps up impatiently. Goes to the window. Close-up of his face in the dim light.
" I suppose everyone must do something hopelessly foolish at times. I've walked into it. Ithe planner of a new world. . . .
" Just at this time with everything ready. . . .
" If this mad War dog here bites me and I dieI wonder who will carry on. . . .
" No man is indispensable . . ."
He tries the firmness of the bars in the window. Fade-out upon his hands holding the bars.
SCENE outside the Town Hall. A small troop of mounted men with a flag leaving for the war. Two led horses are brought up and the Boss and Roxana appear and mount.
The whole body rides off.
A small not very enthusiastic crowd. watches their departure. There is a feeble cheer as the detachment goes off.
Fight on a hill overlooking some coal pits. The Boss directs operations. With him are his irregular troop leaders. They gallop off,
The Boss's cavalry attack some rough trenches. The defenders are overwhelmed and seen running away. The Boss's men are victorious, the enemy routed.
The Central Square. A troop of mounted men ride into the Square. Following come the Boss and Roxana triumphant. Flags decorate the side streets. The crowd shows a new enthusiasm. People cheer as the Boss and Roxana pull up outside the Town Hall.
Man watching: " We have captured the coal pits, and the old oil retorts, and we have got oil at last."
Later, Boss addresses eight or nine officers in the Town Hall. Gordon is seen under arrest. Burton and Roxana look on.
Boss : " Victory approaches. Your sacrifices have not been in vain. Our long struggle with the Hill Men has come to its climax. Our victory at the old coal pits has brought a new supply of oil within reach. Once more we can hope to take the air and look invaders in the face. We have nearly 40 aeroplanes, as big a force, I venture to say, as any in the world now. This oil we have got can be adapted to our engines. That is quite a simple business.
" Nothing remains to be done but a conclusive bombing of the hills. Then for a time we shall enjoy a rich and rewarding peace, the peace of the strong man armed who keepeth his house. And now at this supreme crisis you, Gordon, our master engineer, must needs refuse to help us. Where are my planes ? "
Gordon: " The job is more difficult than you think. Half your machines are hopelessly old. You haven't got 20 sound ones. To be exact, 19. You'll never get the others off the ground. The thing cannot be done as you imagine it. I want assistance."
Boss: " What assistance? "
Gordon : " Your prisoner."
Boss turns to him. " You want that fellow in blackWings over the World? You want him released?"
Gordon: " He knows his business. I don't enough. Make him mytechnical adviser."
Boss: " I don't trust you technical fellows."
Gordon: " Then you won't get an aeroplane up."
Boss : " I want those planes."
Gordon shrugs his shoulders.
The Boss meditates, walking to and fro.
Boss: " And if you get him?"
Gordon: " Then I want Dr. Harding out, too."
Boss: " They'reold associates."
Gordon : " I can't help that. If anybody in Everytown can adapt that crude oil for our aeroplanes it is Harding. If not, it can't be done."
Boss: " We've had a bit of an argument with Harding."
Gordon: " He's the only man who can do this work for you."
Boss: " Bring in Harding."
HARDING is brought in. He is dishevelled, and his hands are tied. He looks as if he has been manhandled.
Boss: " Untie his hands."
The guard releases Harding.
The Boss pauses and looks at Harding
Harding: " Well, what?'
Boss: " The salute."
Harding: " Damn the salute."
The guard steps forward.
Boss : " Never mind the salute now. We'll talk about that afterwards. Now let us see where we are. You, Gordon, are to direct the reconstruction of our air forces. The prisoner Cabal is to be put at your disposal. Everywhere he goes he is to be under guard and observation. No relaxing on that. And neither he nor you must go within fifty yards of his plane. Mind that! You, Harding, are to help Gordon with this fuel problem and to put your knowledge of poison gas at our disposal."
Harding: " I tell you, I will do nothing with poison gas."
Boss : " You've got the knowledgeif I have to wring it out of you. The Combatant State is your father and your mother, your only protector, the totality of your interests. No discipline can be stern enough for the man who denies that by word or deed."
Harding : " Nonsense. We have our duty to civilisation. You and your like are heading back to eternal barbarism."
The entourage is dumbfounded. Burton starts forward. " But this is pure treason."
Harding: " In the name of civilisation, I protest against being dragged from my work. Confound your silly wars! Your war material and all the rest of it! All my life has been interrupted and wasted and spoilt by war. I will stand it no more."
Burton " This is TreasonTreason."
Guards rush upon Harding, seize him and twist his arms.
Harding snarls with pain. Roxana comes forward.
Roxana: " No. Stop that."
The guards stop. Harding is sullen and silent. Boss comes very close to him.
Boss: " We have need of your services."
Harding: " Well, what do you want?"
Boss: " You are conscripted. You are under my orders now and under no others in the world. I am the master here! I am the State. I want fueland gas."
Harding: " Neither fuel nor gas."
Boss: " You refuse?"
Harding: " Absolutely."
Boss: " I do not want to be forced to extremities."
Roxana, who had come in during the conversation, whispers to the Boss, with her eyes on Gordon. Gordon comes fully into the picture. He has a scheme of his own. He looks hard at Roxana as though he was silently trying to will her aid. The confidence in his manner, the faint streak of impudence in his nature, increases.
Gordon : " Sirmay I have a word? I understand you want all of these out-of-date crocks of yours, which you call your air force, to fly againand fly well?"
Boss: " They shall."
Gordon: " With the help of that manCabalyou have in the cells here, and with the help of Doctor Harding hereyou may even get a dozen of your planes in the air again."
Harding: " You are a traitor to civilisation. I won't touch it."
Gordon ignores him: "If you will give me Cabal andif you will leave me free to talk with the Doctor, I promise you will see your air forcea third of it at any ratein the sky, again."
Boss: " You talk as though you were driving a bargain with me."
Gordon : " I am sorry, Chief. It is not I who make these conditions. It is in the nature of things. You cannot have technical services, you cannot have scientific help unless you treat the men who give it youproperly."
Roxana to the Boss, but quite loud: " That's what I have said all along! You are bullying too much, my dear. There is a limit to bullying. Why! You can't make a dog hunt by beating it."
Boss : " I want those aeroplanes."
Gordon : " Well."
Boss : " And I mean to be master here."
Roxana : " Then you have to be reasonable, my dear, and that's all about it."
THE scene changes and Gordon and Cabal are seen at work upon that aeroplane engine which previously puzzled Gordon. The two men quite understand each other. Cabal works and Gordon learns from him. The four guards watch and poke their noses about and listen conscientiously but perplexedly. They glance at one, another. They are much too oafish to control the conversation.
Cabal, between his teeth: " If only they'd let us go back to my own plane. There's a radio there."
Gordon: " Hopeless. . . . Won't even trust me."
Cabal: " We'll have to make a job of this."
Gordon : " I could send men for your reserve petrol. They'll give me that. For this."
Cabal : " Good." Then louder as if explaining the machine. "One of the most difficult bits in this is what is called the get-a-wayit's a sort of cut out. But I have some ideas."
Gordon : " We'll manage it, I think. Now that Dr. Harding understands his part of the job . . ."
They nod reassuringly to each other, and then glance at the stupid faces of their guards. It's safe.
EVENING. Cabal is sitting in his cell lit by the light of two candles. He looks bored and despondent.
He turns round at a knocking at his door. " Come in. Don't stand on ceremony."
The door is opened deferentially by a guard. Roxana appears, rather specially dressed.
Cabal has not expected anything of this sort. He is a man of experience with women, although he has none of the Boss's devouring enterprise. He stands up. She walks in, carrying herself with a certain consciousness of her effect. He bows and remains silent.
ROXANA : "I wanted to look at you."
CABAL, stiffly: "At your service, Madam."
ROXANA : "You are the most interesting thing that has happened in Everytown for years."
CABAL: "You honour me."
ROXANA : "You come fromoutside. I had begun to forget there was anything outside. I want to hear about it."
CABAL : "May I offer you my only chair? "
There follows a long conversation in which Roxana endeavours to persuade Cabal to tell her everything about the outside world. For his confidences she promises to help him out of his difficulty.
Suddenly they are interrupted. The Boss enters.
"The Boss" Warned
Boss: "So this is where you are!"
ROXANA : "I said I should talk to him and I have."
Boss: "I told you to leave him alone."
ROXANA : "Yes, and sat up there drinking and looking as wonderful and powerful as you could. Rudolf the Victorious! I knowyou sent twice to ask Gordon and his wife to come! So that she should see you in your glory. And here am I trying to find out for you what this black invader means. Do you think I wanted to come and talk, to him "she turns to Cabal" this grey cold man? While you are swaggering here, more aeroplanes are getting ready away there at Basra."
ROXANA : "His headquarters. Have you never heard of Basra?"
Boss: "These are matters for men to talk about."
CABAL: "Your lady has been putting me through a severe cross-examination. But the gist isthat away there in Basra the aeroplanes are rising night and day like hornets about a hornets' nest. What happens to me here is a small affair. They'll get you. The new world of the united airmen will get you. Why, listen! You can almost hear them coming now."
Roxana leaves the room. When she has gone out the Boss turns and comes towards Cabal.
Boss: "I don't know what she has been saying to you. Perhaps I don't care. Not as much as she thinks. There's no following her chopping and changing. I've had about enough of it. But I'm not a fool. There's no making peace between you and me. None at all. It's your world or mine. It's going to be mineor I die fighting. After all this threateningswarms of hornets and so onyou are a hostage. Understand. No one comes near you. Your friend Gordon will have to manage without you. And don't be so sure you'll win. So just go on sitting here and thinking about it, Mr. Wings over the World."
THE following day, bright daylight shining into the laboratory of Dr. Harding. Mary leans against the work bench and Roxana is talking to her.
ROXANA : "It is not only that I want to protect you from the insults of the Chief. Oh! I know him. But I want to talk to you about this man Cabal and this Airmen's World they talk about. What is this new world that is coming? Is it a new world really or it only the old world dressed up in a new way? Do you understand Cabal? Is he flesh and blood?"
MARY : "He's a great man. My father knew him years ago. My husband worships him."
ROXANA : "He's so coldso preoccupied. And sointeresting. Do men like that ever make love? "
MARY : "A different It ort of love, perhaps."
ROXANA : "Love on ice. If this new worldall airships and science and ordercomes about, what will happen to us women?"
MARY: "We shall work like the men."
ROXANA : "You mean that? Are you flesh and blood?"
MARY: "As much as my husband and father."
ROXANA (with infinite contempt) : "Men !" Sometimeswhen I think of lean grim CabalI believe this world of yours must come. And then I think it can't come. It can't. It's a dream. It will seem to come, but it won't come. It's just a new lot of men at the top. There will be wars still. Struggles still."
MARY : "No, it will be civilisation. It will be peace. This nightmare of a world we live inthat is the dream, that is what will pass away."
ROXANA : "No. No. This is reality."
MARY, staring in front of her: "Do you really think that war and struggle mere chance gleams of happinessgeneral misery all this squalid divided world about us, do you think it must go on for ever?"
ROXANA : "You want an impossible world. Nice in a wayperhaps, but impossible. You are asking too much from men and women. They won't bother to bring it about. You are asking them to want unnatural things. What do we want? We women. Knowledge, civilisation, the good of mankind? Nonsense! Oh, nonsense. We want satisfaction. We want glory. I want the glory of being lovedthe glory of being wanteddesired, splendidly desiredand the glory of feeling and looking splendid. Do you want anything different? No. But you haven't learned to look facts in the face yet.
"I know men. Every man wants the same thingglory! Glory in some form. The glory of being loveddon't I know it? The glory they love most of all. The glory of bossing things. herethe glory of war and victory. This brave new world of yours will never come. This wonderful world of reason! It wouldn't be worth having if it does come. It would be dull and
safe andoh, dreary! No loversno warriorsno dangersno adventure."
MARY: "No adventure! No glory in helping to make the world overanew! It is you who are dreaming."
The noise of an aeroplane is heard growing rapidly louder. They turn to the window and look out. They become excited.
They crane up at an aeroplane circling overhead. It makes a great old-fashioned roar.
ROXANA " Look ! It's your Gordon. he's flying at last."
IN the aeroplane is Gordon at the controls. He is satisfied. Behind him sits a rosetted guard. Gordon turning the machine round. Everytown is far below.
The machine flies on. The guard stirs. He protests inaudibly because of the roar of the engine. Gordon disregards him. Guard taps Gordon's shoulder, signs for him to return, and presently, finding no response but a cheerful smile, points his pistol. Mutual scrutiny. Guard weakly menacing. Gordon points over the side of the cockpit. He smiles suddenly, having taken the measure of his man, and puts his fingers to his nose.
The aeroplane jerks sharply upwards, and the guard, no longer pointing his pistol, but gripping tight, is manifestly scared.
Aeroplane looping the loopthen the falling leaf trick.
Guard's ordeal through all this motion. He drops the pistol and grips the side.
Pistol falling. Hitting the ground and exploding.
The aeroplane seen flying away over the hills.
" And so I got away," says Gordon's voice.
As the voice is heard, the last scene dissolves into the next.
The New Power
CONFERENCE room at Basra, rather like an ultra-modern board room. It is bleakly and rationally furnished. Telephones have been restored to the world.
Through a large open window one sees the great and growing aerodrome of Basra with a number of aeroplanes coming and going. Far off there is a group of smoking factory chimneys. It is a sudden contrast to the general ruinousness that has prevailed throughout this film since the war sequences.
A dozen young and middle-aged men sit at the table indifferent to these familiar activities outside, and Gordon stands talkingtoo excited to sit.
Gontdon : "And so I got away. That is where you will find Cabal. The Boss of Everytown is a violent toughhe may do anything. There is no time to lose."
A MIDDLE-AGED MAN : " Certainly, there is no time to lose. Half squadron A is ready now. You ready to go with them, Mr. ?"
GORDON : " Gordon, sir."
The middle-aged man begins to dial a telephone.
A YOUNG MAN : " This gives us a chance of trying this new anaesthetic, the Gas of Peace . . . I wish I could go. . ."
THE Boss is next seen in his bedroom. He is in deshabille and has just got out of bed. With him is Burton and by the door stands a messenger.
BURTON: " At last we have definite news."
BOSS : " What is it?"
An attendant brings in a tray of breakfast and sets it on the table.
BURTON : "Gordon didn't fall into the sea. He got away. A fishing boat saw him making the French coast. Perhaps he reached his pals."
Boss, disagreeably: " Well?"
BURTON : "He'll be coming back. He'll be bringing the others with him."
The Boss is waking up slowly and is very peevish : "Curse this Air League. Curse all airmen and gasmen and machinemen ! Why didn't we leave their machines and chemicals alone. I might have known. Why did I tamper with flying?"
BURTON : " Well, we needed aeroplanesagainst the Hill State. Somebody else would have started in again with aeroplanes and gas and bombs if we hadn't. These people would have come interfering anyhow."
BOSS: "Why was all this science ever allowed? Why was it ever let begin?" He turns listlessly to his breakfast. He begins again: "Science!it's the enemy of everything that is natural in life. I dreamt of those chaps in the night. Great ugly inhuman chaps in black. Half like machines. Bombing and bombing."
BURTON: "I guess they'll come bombing, all right."
BOSS: " Then we'll fight 'em. Since Gordon got away I've had one or two of the air boys to see me. Those boys have guts. They can do something still."
He walks up and down devouring a piece of bread. " We'll fight 'em. We'll fight 'em. We've got hostages. . . . I'm glad now we haven't shot them anyhow. I wonder if that fellow Harding. . . . Of course ! He can tell us what to do about this gas. If we have to wring his arm off and knock half his teeth down his throat to make him do it. Get himget him."
Burton at door shouting for men and giving orders.
The Boss is gathering courage and takes his food with greater gusto: "They have to come to earth sometime. What is this World Communications? A handful of men like ourselves. They're not magic."
The scene changes. Outside the hangar there is a row of worn-out aeroplanes. A number of very young inexperienced-looking pilots stand before them. The Boss is inspecting them. Roxana is beside him.
The Boss begins his speech : "To you I entrust these good, these tried and tested machines. You are not mechanicsyou are warriors. You have been taught not to think, but to doandif need be, die. I salute you I, your leader."
The boy pilots go off rather reluctantly to their machines and start them up. It is an almost "Heath Robinson" scene of our contemporary (1935) machines in the last stage of decay and patch-up.
SUDDENLY there comes into view a new type of air bomber flying with a sort of remorselessnessin contrast with the hops and misbehaviour of the Boss's machines. It is Gordon returning. Two other big bombers follow, low down in the sky.
The machine has a distinctive throb of its own.
In closer shots of the great bomber there can be seen aviators (three men and two women) standing about looking down on the world. One is Gordon. Gordon is anxious.
The Boss is with Burton and Roxana and his staff. The Boss studies the familiar skyline through binoculars. Guards bring in Mary and Harding. The Boss turns to them.
BOSS : "What do you know about these Air League people? Have they gas? What sort of gas?"
HARDING: " I know nothing of gas."
BOSS: "Here, where are the masks?"
Two boys appear with a job lot of maskscaricatures of existing types.
BOSS : "Tell us about these masks, anyhow."
Harding examines a mask and tears it and throws it down. "Rotten! No use at all."
BOSS : "What gas have they got?"
HARDING : " Gas war isn't my business."
BOSS : "Well, they can't gas us when you are here, anyhow."
BURTON, in dismay : " Here they are. Listen. They're coming already!"
The strange recognisable throb of Gordon's aeroplanes is heard.
The Boss rushes forward and looks up with his binoculars: "Clumsy great things! Our boys will have them down in five minutes. They're too clumsy. What!Only six of us up. Where are the rest of our fellows?"
Sudden consternation of the group at something unseen. A machine falls in flames and crashes in the distance.
BOSS : "Go onup at him."
A loud report. Far off another aeroplane crashes in flames.
ROXANA : " Poor boyit's got him."
BOSS : " They're both coming down. Cowards!"
ROXANA : " But they can't use gashow can they use gas?when we have the hostages."
The Boss turns and looks at the hostages. " Ah! The hostages! I'm not done yet. Lead them outthere. Tie 'em up. Out there in the open. Where they can be seen."
GUARDS take Mary and Harding out to the open and tie them up to two posts. Closer shot of Mary and Harding being tied to the posts. They look at one another with steady eyes. Then they look up at the sky.
The Boss comes over to them, brandishing his pistol. He shouts up to the sky : "Come down, or I shoot them. Are you bombing your own hostages? Come down or I shoot."
He remembers Cabal. " Where's the other fellow ? He's the Prize Hostage. He's the best of all. They'll know him. Four of yougo and fetch him . . ."
A deep soft thud and a bomb explodes some distance off. The sound the bomb makes is not a sharp explosive report ; it is more like the whoof of a puff of steam.
A soldier cries out : "Is it gas ? "
The BOSS waves his pistol at Mary and Harding. "You, anyhow, shall die before I do." Roxana stands near him. Another bomb thuds nearer. The Boss points his pistol at Harding with an expression of desperate resolution, but Roxana knocks it up as he fires.
BOSS : " You turn against me?"
ROXANA : " Don't you seehe's beaten you. Look !"
Soldiers in the distance are seen staggering and falling.
The gas this time is transparent, and is visible only as a sort of shimmering heat haze. The foreground now is still perfectly clear, but the middle distance is flickering.
ROXANA rushes to Mary and clings to her : "MaryI never did you any harm. I saved your father. I saved you. Couldn't you call up to your man to stop this . . ."
Crescendo of whoofs close at hand. Whoof. WHOOF. WHOOF. The gas increases and creeps nearer and nearer.
The Boss looks with amazement at his men gradually succumbing to the gas. He starts and pulls himself together.
BOSS : " Shoot them ! What are you all doing? Why don't you move? I won't have it like this. What's happening? Everything is going swiminy! 'Everything is swimming."
He wipes his hand across his eyes as if he can no longer see or think distinctly. His face is suddenly distorted in a last violent effort to resist the gas.
BOSS : "Shoot, I say! Shoot. Shoot. We've never shot enough yet. We never shot enough. We spared them. These intellectuals ! These contrivers. These experts! Now they've got us. Our world or theirs. What did a few hundreds of them matter? We've been weakweak. Kill them like vermin ! Kill all of them ! . . . Why should I be beaten like this ? Weakness ! Weakness ! Weakness is fatal ! . . . Shoot ! "
A New Start
THE dark figure of Cabal appears through the swirl. He is wearing his great mask again and there is no sign of collapse about him.
CABAL: " Your sentries seem to have gone to sleep. So I came out. . . . All the town is going to sleep. . . . You made us do it."
The Boss, by this time, is sprawling insensibly.
All the rest are lying insensible. There is a pause and then Cabal speaks. " And now for the World of the Airmen and a new start for mankind."
MARY is in a sitting position at the foot of the post to which she was tied, and Roxana is grouped very gracefully across her feet.
The Boss sprawls on his face in the foreground with his clenched fist outstretched. Harding droops from his post. Burton, a little further off, lies on a heap of rubble, and beyond are soldiers and attendants.
Cabal comes nearer to the group. " You might he more comfortable, Harding," he says, and releases the ropes, lowering the inanimate Harding into a sitting position. " So."
Then he turns to the two women. " Well, my dears, you must sleep for a time. There's nothing more to be done."
He stands looking at them. Close up of the two women's faces in repose. Mary is quietly peaceful. Roxana, even when she is insensible, contrives to be attractive. Cabal's voice is heard.
CABAL : "Mary. And Madame Roxana ! Queer contrast. Madame Roxana. A pretty thing and a very pretty thing and what's to he done with this very pretty thing ? The eternal adventuress. A common pretty woman who doesn't work. A lady! She has pluck. Charm. Brains enough for infinite mischief. And a sort of energy. She'll play her pretty eyes at men to the end of her time. Now the Bosses go the way of motley grubbers. I suppose it will he our turn. Wherever power is, she will follow.
"And let me confess to you, young woman, now that you can't hear me or take any advantage of me, that considering my high responsibilities and my dignified years, I find you a lot more interesting and disturbing than I ought to do. Men are men. you said, to the end of their days. You get at us.
"I wish we could keep you under gas always. There is much to be said for the harem idea. Must you still be up to your tricks in our new world?"
He adds : " The new world, with the old stuff. Our job is only beginning."
Civilisation Again !
Dawn breaking over Everytown. Dawn sky. Vista of a side street. Sleeping figures lie scattered about. Gordon and a knot of companions, several young airmen and two women, also in black leather, come through the ruins. They are no longer masked. One of them tears down a rosette flag in passing.
FIRST YOUNG AIRMAN : " They'll sleep for another day. "
SECOND AIRMAN: " Well, we've given 'em a whiff of civilisation at last."
FIRST AIRMAN: " Nothing like putting children to sleep when they are naughty. "
On the outskirts of the town, wondering country people in their coarse canvas clothes and sabots are seen coming down the hillside against the familiar skyline.
People coming into the Square, which is littered with sleepers. Some of the sleepers are beginning to stir. A bunch of the new airmen in their black costumes, but not masked or helmeted, appear and walk across the scene..
People staring at the airmen, the backs of the unkempt heads very big in silhouette in the foreground of the picture.
It is decadent barbarism watching the return of civilisation.
RETURN to the council room at the aerodrome at Basra. Much greater activity is now seen through the window.
Big lorries are running about. People go to and fro. Aeroplanes of novel type are going up in groups of seven, squadron after squadron.
The table is now covered with maps and a group of secretaries stand ready to give any help. Costumes, very slightly "futuristic," severe, and mostly mechanics' or air costume.
Cabal is a dominant figure beside the chairman.
CABAL, leaning over a map : "This is how I conceive our plan of operations. Settle, organise, advance. This zone, then that. At last wings over the whole world and the new world begins. More and more it will become a round-up of brigands. . . . "
The Airmen's War. Many aeroplanes of strange and novel shape rising into the air. They fill the sky. A brief air fight between three old normal fighting aeroplanes and one of the new aeroplanes.
Over a ruinous landscape, brigands with flags and old military uniforms in flight as the new aeroplanes overhead bomb them. The bombs explode and gas overcomes the brigands.
Sky writing by the new planes : SURRENDER.
Brigands crawl from hiding place and surrender, hands over their heads. Brigands run out from the houses of another town as the aeroplanes approach. They surrender.
The sky dotted with the new aeroplanes. Hundreds of men drop from the sky with parachutes. The brigands stand waiting.
A line of prisoners marching. They carry regimental flags. They are the last ragged vestige of the regular armies of the old order. It is the end of organised war at last. A group of the new airmen watch their march-past. Overhead the new aeroplanes are hovering.
Life in 2054
THE object of this Part is to bridge, as rapidly and vigorously as possible, the transition from the year 1970 to the year 2054.
An age of enormous mechanical and industrial energy has to be suggested. The shots dissolve rapidly on to one another, and are bridged with enigmatic and eccentric mechanical movements. The small figures of men move among the monstrosities of mechanism, more and more dwarfed by their accumulating intensity.
An explosive blast fills the screen. The smoke clears, and the work of the engineers of this new age looms upon us. First, there is a great clearance of old material and a preparation for new structures. Gigantic cranes swing across the screen. Old ruined steel frameworks are torn down. Shots are given of the clearing up of old buildings and ruins.
Then come shots, suggesting experi-ment, design and the making of new materials. A huge, power station and machine details are shown. Digging machines are seen making a gigantic excavation. Conveyor belts carry away, the debris.
Stress is laid on the work of excavation because the Everytown of the year 2054 will be dug into the hills. It will not be a skyscraper city. A chemical factory with a dark liquid bubbling in giant retorts works swiftly aid smoothly. Masked workers go to and fro. The liquid is poured out into a moulding machine that is making walls for new bitildings.
The metal scaffolding of the new town is being made and great slabs of wall from the moulding machine are placed in position.. The lines of the new subterranean city of Everytown begin to appear, bold and colossal.
Swirling river rapids are seen giving place to a deep controlled flow of water as a symbol of material civilisation gaining control of nature.
Flash the date A.D. 2054.
A loud, querulous voice breaks across the concluding phase of these scenes of " transition."" I don't like these mechanical triumphs."
The voice is the voice of THEOTOCOPULOS, the rebel artist of the new era. His face becomes visible, very big on the screen. He speaks with force and bitterness: " I do not like this Machinery. I do not like this machinery. All these wheels going round. Everything going so fast and slick. No."
He is seen to be sitting at the foot of a great mass of marble. He is wearing the white overalls of a sculptor and carries a mallet and a chisel.
A second sculptor, a bearded man, comes into the picture. " Well, what can we do about it?"
THEOTOCOPULOS, as if he reveals the most obscure secret, " Talk."
The bearded man shurgs his shoulders and grimaces humorously as if towards a third interlocutor in the auditorium.
THEOTOCOPULOS explodes : " Talk. Radio is every-where. This modern world is full of voices. I am going to talk all this machinery down."
The BEARDED MAN : " But will they let you?"
THEOTOCOPULOS imperiously : " They'll let me. I shall call my talks Art and Life. That sounds harmless enough. And I will go for this Brave New World of theirstooth and claw."
110 Looks Back
A LARGE space, rather than a room, partaking of the nature of a conservatory and large drawing-room. There are neither pillars nor right-angle joints. The roof curves gently over the space. Beautiful plants and a fountain in a basin. Through the plants one catches a glimpse of the City Ways.
An old gentleman of 110 or there abouts, but good-looking and well-preserved, sits in an arm-chair. A pretty little girl (8-9) lies on a couch and looks at a piece of apparatus on which pictures appear. It has a simple control knob. Some strange pet animal, perhaps a capuchin monkey, is playing with a ball on the rug. A doll in an exaggerated costume of the period lies on a seat.
GIRL : "I like these History Lessons."
The apparatus is showing Lower New York from abovean aeroplane travelogue.
LITTLE GIRL: "What a funny place New York wasall sticking up and full of windows."
OLD MAN : " They built houses like that in the old days."
LITTLE GIRL : " Why?"
OLD MAN : "They had no light inside their cities as we have. So they had to stick the houses up into the daylightwhat there was of it. They had no properly mixed .and conditioned air.'
He manipulates the knob and shows a similar view of Paris or Berlin. " Everybody lived half out of doors. And windows of soft brittle glass everywhere. The Age of Windows lasted four centuries. "
The apparatus shows rows of windows, cracked, broken, mended, etc. It is a brief fantasia on the theme of windows done in the Grierson style.
OLD MAN : " They never seemed to realise that we could light the interiors of our houses with sunshine of our own, so that there would be no need to poke our houses up ever so high into the air."
LITTLE GIRL: " Weren't the people tired going up and down those stairs ?"
OLD MAN : " They were all tired and they had a disease called colds. Everybody had colds and coughed end sneezed and roll at the eyes."
LITTLE GIRL: " What's sneezed?"
OLD MAN : " You know. Atishoo!"
The little girl sits up very greatly delighted.
LITTLE GIRL: " Atishoo. Everyone said Atishoo. That must have been funny."
OLD MAN: "Not so funny as you think."
LITTLE GIRL.: " And you remember all that, great-grandfather?"
OLD MAN : " I remember some of it. Colds we had and we had indigestion toofrom the queer bad foods we ate. It was a poor life. Never really well."
LITTLE GIRL: " Did people laugh a lot?"
OLD MAN : " They had a way of grinning at it. They called it humour. We had to have a lot of humour. I've lived through some horrid times, my dear. Oh! Horrid!"
LITTLE GIRL : " Horrid! I don't want to see or hear about that. The Wars, the Wandering Sickness, and all those dreadful years. Noise of that will come again, great-grandad? Ever? "
OLD MAN : " Not if progress goes on."
LITTLE GIRL : " They keep on inventing new things now, don't they? And making life lovelier and lovelier? "
To the Moon
OLD MAN : " Yes . . . Lovelier and bolder . . . I suppose I'm an old man, my dear, but some of it seems almost like going too far. This Space Gun of theirs that they keep on shooting."
LITTLE GIRL: " What is this Space Gun, great-grandfather?"
OLD MAN : " It is a gun they discharge by electricityit's a lot of guns one inside the othereach one discharges the next inside. I don't properly understand that. But the cylinder it shoots out at last goes so fast that it goesswishright away from the earth. "
LITTLE GIRL (entranced) : " What. Right out into the sky! To the stars? "
OLD MAN : " They may get to the stars in time, but what they shoot at now is the Moon."
LITTLE GIRL : " You mean they shoot cylinders at the moon! Poor old Moon ! "
OLD MAN : " Not exactly at it. They shoot the cylinder so that it travels round the other side of the moon and comes back, and there's a safe place in the Pacific Ocean where it drops. They get more and more accurate. They say they can tell within twenty miles where it will come back, and they keep the sea clear for it. You see ? "
LITTLE GIRL : " But how splendid. And can people go in the cylinders? Can go when I grow up? And see the other side of the moon ! And plump back ker-plosh ! into the sea ! "
OLD MAN : " Oh! They haven't sent men and women yet. That's what all the trouble's about. That's what Theotocopulos. is making the trouble about."
LITTLE GIRL : " Theocotto "
OLD MAN : " Theotocopulos. "
LITTLE GIRL : " What a funny name! "
OLD MAN: "It's a Greek name. He's the descendant of a great artist called El Greco. Theolocopuloslike that."
LITTLE GIRL : " And he makes trouble you say ? "
OLD MAN : " Oh, never mind. "
LITTLE GIRL : " It wouldn't hurt to go to the moon? "
OLD MAN : " We don't know. Some people say yessome people say no. They've sent mice round. "
LITTLE GIRL : " Mice that have gone round the moon ! "
OLD MAN : " They get broken up, poor little beasties! They don't know how to hold on when the bumps come. That's why there's all this talk of sending a man, perhaps, He'd know how to hold on . . ."
LITTLE GIRL : " He'd have to be brave, wouldn't he . . . ? I wish I could fly round the moon. "
OLD MAN : " That in time, my dear. Won't you come back to your history pictures again ? "
LITTLE GIRL : " I'm glad I didn't live in the old world. I know that John Cabal and his airmen tidied it up. Did you see John Cabal, great-granddad ? "
OLD MAN : " You can see him in your pictures, my dear. "
LITTLE GIRL : " But you saw him when he lived. You really saw him ? "
OLD MAN : " Yes. I saw the great John Cabal with my own eyes when I was a little boy. A lean brown old man with hair as white as mine. "
A still of John Cabal is shown as we saw him in the council at Basra.
The OLD MAN adds : " He was the grandfather of our Oswald Cabal, the President of our Council. "
LITTLE GIRL : " Just as you are my great-grandfather? "
OSWALD CABAL is seated in his private room in the administrative offices of the City of Everytown.
The room is of the same easy style of architecture as the preceding scene. There are no windows and no corners, but across a kind of animated frieze, a band of wall, above Cabal's head, there sweep phantom clouds and waves, waving trees, clusters of flowers and the like in a perpetual silent sequence of decorative effects. There is a large televisor disc and telephone and other apparatus on the desk before Cabal.
Oswald Cabal is a calmer younger-looking version of his ancestor. His hair is dark and, like all hair in the new world. trimly dressed. His costume is of a white silken material with very slight and simple embroidery. In its fineness and white ness and in its breadth across the shoulders it contrasts acutely with the close black aviator costume of John Cabal.
The First to the Moon
Cabal says to an unseen interlocutor: " Then I take it this Space Gun has passed all its preliminary trials and that nothing remains now but the selection of those who are to go."
The picture broadens out, and we see that Cabal is not alone. He is in conference with two engineers. They wear dark and simple clothes in the broad-shouldered fashion of the agenot leather working-clothes or anything of that sort. In an age of mechanical perfection there is no need for overalls and grease-proof clothing. One sits on a chair of modernist form. (All furniture is metallic.) The other leans familiarly against a table.
First Engineer: " That's going to be the trouble."
Second Engineer: " There are thousands of young people applyingyoung men and young women. I never dreamed the moon was so attractive."
First Engineer: " Practically the gun is perfect now. There are risks, but reasonable risks. And the position of the moon in the next three or four months gives us the best conditions for getting there. It is only the choice of the two now that matters."
Cabal: " Well?"
Second Engineer: " There are going to be difficulties. That man Theotocopulos is talking on the radio about it."
Cabal: " He's a fantastic creature."
Second Engineer: " Yes, but he is making trouble. It is not going to be easy to choose these young people."
Cabal: " With all those thousands offering?"
First Engineer: " We have looked into thousands of cases. We have rejected everyone of imperfect health. Or anyone who had friends who objected. And the fact is, sir. We wish you would talk to two people. There is Raymond Passworthy of General Fabrics. You know him?"
Cabal: " Quite well. His great-grandfather knew mine."
First Engineer: " And his son."
Second Engineer: " We want you to see the son, sirMaurice Passworthy."
Cabal: " Why ?"
First Engineer: " He asks to go."
Cabal: " With whom?"
Second Engineer: " We think you had better see him. He is waiting here."
Cabal considers and then lifts his gauntlet and touches a spot on it. A faint musical sound responds. He says: " Is Maurice Passworthy waiting . . . Yes. . . . Send him up."
ALMOST immediately a panel opens in the wall and a slender, rather lightly-clad, good-looking young man appears.
Cabal stands up and looks at him, " You want to talk with me?"
The two engineers bow and retire.
Maurice Passworthy: " Forgive me, sir. I came straight to you."
Cabal: " You ask a favour?"
Maurice Passworthy: " A very big favour. I want to be one of the first two human beings to see the other side of the moon."
Cabal: " It means danger. Great hardship, anyhow. There is an even chance, they say, you may never come back. And a still greater chance of coming back crippled."
Maurice Passworthy: " Give me credit for not minding that, sir."
Cabal: "A lot of you young people don't mind that. But why should you be favoured?"
Maurice Passworthy: "Well, sir, I'm the son of a friend of yours. People seem to feel you ought not to send two people you do not know" He leaves his sentence unfinished.
Cabal: " Go on."
Maurice Passworthy: "We have talked about this over and over again."
Cabal: " We?"
Maurice Passworthy: " You stand for so much in the New World, the Great World of to-day."
Cabal is leaning against his desk and thinking. He looks keenly at the young man's face. " We?" he repeats.
Maurice Passworthy: " Both of us. It is her idea even more than it is mine."
Cabal's mind has already leapt forward to what is coming. " Her idea? Who is she?"
Maurice Passworthy: " Someone much closer to you than I am, sir."
Cabal, quietly: " Tell me."
Maurice Passworthy: " We have been fellow-students these three years."
Cabal, impatiently: " Yesyes, but tell me."
Maurice Passworthy: " It is your daughter, sirCatherine. She says that you cannot possibly send anyone's child but your own."
Cabal, after a pause: " I might have known."
Maurice Passworthy: " You see, sir "
Cabal: " I see. My daughter . . . Funny that I never thought of her as anything but a little girl. Quite out of this . . . My Catherine."
Maurice Passworthy: " She is 18."
Cabal: "A ripe age . . . I'm a littletaken by surprise. And you two have thought it all out."
Maurice Passworthy: " It's so plain, sir."
Cabal: " Yes, it's plain. It's just. It is exactly as things ought to be. Exactly. All these other thousands will have to wait their turn . . . Sit down here. Tell me how first you came to know my Catherine?"
Maurice Passworthy: " Ever since we began to work together. It seemed so natural, sir. She's so straight and simple . . . "
Cabal and Maurice Passworthy sit down for a talk and the picture fades out. Cabal has still to assimilate this novel idea.
Costumes of 2055
IT is half an hour later. Cabal is no longer in his bureau. He is standing in a dark recess against a gracefully-patterned wall. A small clear sound is heard, and he attends to the telephone disc on his gauntlet. " Yes . . . Who is it? . . . Raymond Passworthy . . . Certainly . . ."
He waits for half a second. " Is that Raymond Passworthy? Yes. I have been talking to your son for half an hour. Yes. He is a splendid youngster . . . You want to talk to me. At your service . . . I am going to see my daughter at the Athletic Club. He is meeting her there. He has just gone to her. Would you care to walk with me
through the City Ways and out through the weather? . . . I'll be with you . . ."
Cabal goes out into one of the high-flung City Ways in the brightly-lit cavernous Everytown of 2055.
Here for the first time one sees the ordinary social types of the year 2055 at close hand, their costume and their bearing. No one is ragged, and only one man is wearing any sort of working costume. He is a gardener, and he is spraying some of the flowers. The general type of costume is reminiscent of men's costume in Tudor days, varying very widely between simplicity and ornateness.
Some of the young women are very lightly and simply clad, but others are more consciously " costumed." One sees also the very bold and decorative architecture of this semi-subterranean city and the use of running water and novel and beautiful plants and flowering shrubs in decoration.
In the sustained bright light and conditioned air of the new Everytown, and in the hands of skilful gardeners, vegetation has taken on a new vigour and loveliness.
People pass. People gather in knots and look down on the great spaces below.
The figures of Cabal and Passworthy come walking across the foreground of this scene.
Passworthy is a finer, fitter version, leaner and trimmer, of his ancestor. He walks talking with Cabal for some paces, with the city scene passing panorama fashion behind. and then the two come to a stop leaning against a parapet looking clown on the city and talking earnestly.
Old Problems Again
Passworthy: " I grant you the reality of the progress the world has made since the Airmen took control. It has been a century of marvels. But cannot we have too much of progress? Here I agree is a lovely world in which we are living. A little artificialbut admirable, at least. The triumph of human invention and human will. Comfort, beauty, security. Our light is brighter than the sunshine outside, and never before has mankind breathed so sweet an air. We have got the better of nature. Why should we still drive on so urgently?"
Cabal: " Because it is in the nature of life to drive on. The most unnatural thing in life is contentment."
Passworthy: " Contentment! Contentment is Heaven!"
Cabal: " And this is not heaven."
Passworthy: " No. Indeed not. When sons rebel against their fathers."
Cabal: " And fathers listen to their daughters. We are both fathers of rebel children, eh? An old problem, Passworthy. A child that isn't a rebel is a vain repetition. What to do with our sons and daughters? Fathers like you and me were asking that question in the Stone Age."
Passworthy: " But to hurl them at the moon!"
Cabal: " They hurl themselves."
Passworthy: " Desperate young people. Why should they be willing?"
Cabal: " Humanity is tough stuff. If it wasn't for the desperate young people it wouldn't have got very far."
Passworthy: "Anyone who attempts such an expedition must be killed. You know that. Lost for ever on that frozen world."
Cabal: " They're not going to the moon; they're going round it."
Passworthy: " That's a quibble."
Cabal: " They will come back."
Passworthy: " If I could believe that!"
Cabal: " The best thing for us both is to believe it."
Passworthy: " Why should our children be chosen for a thing like this?"
Cabal: " Science asks for the best."
Passworthy: " But my boy! Always such an impetuous little devil. All very well for you, Cabal. You are the great-grandson of John Cabal, the air dictatorwho changed the course of the world. Experiment is in your blood. Youand your daughter! I'mI'm more normal. I don't believe my boy would ever have thought of it. But the two of them got together. They want to go together.'
Cabal: "They will come back together. This time there is to be no attempt to land on the moon."
Passworthy: "And when is thisthis great experiment to be made? How long are we to have them before they go?"
Cabal (a little disingenuously): "I don't know."
Passworthy: " But when?"
Cabal: " When the Space Gun is ready again."
Passworthy: " You mean some time this year?"
Cabal: " Soon."
Passworthy: " In the old days it was different. Fathers had authority then. I should have said ' No,' and that would have settled it."
Cabal: " Fathers have said ' No ' since the Stone Age."
Passworthy: "And is there no saving of our children from this madness?"
Cabal: "But would it be saving our children?"
Passworthy: "Yesit would."
Cabal: " For what?"
Passworthy (bursts out): " Children are born to be happy. Young people should take life lightly. There is something horrible in this immolationit is nothing less than immolationat 18 and 21."
Cabal: " Do you think I have no feelings like yours? That I don't love my daughter? . . . I'm snatching an hour to-dayjust to see her and look at her while I can. All the same. I shall let her go . . . when the time comes."
Passworthy: " Where are they now?"
Cabal: " She is away at the Athletic Club in the hillsin training. Your son is there now. Come with me and see them. Face to face with them we may not feel just as we do here. Anyhow, it will be well to be with them a bit . . . . It's fine outside. Will you comedo you mind coming out in the weather with me?"
Passworthy: " Mind? I'm an open-air man. This conditioned air may be better for us with its extra oxygen and so on, and the light here steadier and brighter, but give me the old sky and the wind on the heath, brother, and the snow and the rain, the quick changes and the nightfall. I don't really love this human ant-hill in which we live."
Cabal: " We'll go and talk to the young people."
THE exterior of Everytown is different from what it was in 1940 or 1970. The old familiar hill-contour is in the background and quite recognisable, but the old town itself under the open sky has disappeared and given place to a few terraces and exterior structures.
There are unfamiliar architectural forms, grass slopes and formal trees. It is very tranquil and beautiful, the apotheosis of Everytown.
A few aeroplanes of novel structure pass across the sky. Cabal and Passworthy, on their way to see their children, have changed their costumes to something more suitable for the open-air, a fabric of the cloth type instead of silky wear, and they have cloaks. The sky is cloudy, the weather is showery, and in contrast to the serenity of the city the sunlight drifts in patches across the scene. Along a wide highway flows an almost noiseless traffic of streamlined vehicles that come and go through a great entrance, far more brightly lit than the world outside.
Passworthy (with an effort to be easy-minded) : "Here we are up in the weather. Back to Nature. Well, welldon't you feel the better for it?"
Cabal: "If I did I should make trouble for our ventilation department. I'll confess I like the varying breeze and the shadows of the cloudsnow and then."
Passworthy: "What changes those old hills there have seen in the last two centuries. Prosperity. War. Want. Pestilence. This New Amazing World. Look at it now!"
Cabal: "And the changes they have seen are nothing to the Changes they are destined to see."
Passworthy: "Those old hills there They are the only things our great-grandfathers would recognise. I suppose they too in their turn will be swept away."
Cabal: "All things are swept away in their turn. Blame nature for that, not man."
Passworthy: "There's some open-air people playing that old game of golf away there. It's a good game. I swing a club a bit myself. I don't suppose you do?"
Cabal: "I don't. Why should I?"
Passworthy: " It keeps one from thinking."
Cabal lifts his eyebrows.
Passworthy: " It couldn't keep me from thinking to-day anyhow. Oh! I can't keep my mind off it! These young people of ours! My heart aches. I feel it here . . . I'm out of sorts with this modern world and all this progress. I suppose our city is all very fine and vital, and the country side trimmer and lovelierif you likethan it was in the days of competition and scramble. I suppose there is hardly a bramble or a swamp or a thicket left in the world. Why can't we rest at this? Why must we go onand go on more strenuously; than ever?"
Cabal: "You think I drive? That my sort drives?"
Passworthy: "If you must have the truthyesyou drivedamnably."
Cabal: "No. Nature drives. She drives and kills. She is man's mother. and she is his incessant enemy. She bears all her children in hate and struggle. Beneath this surface of plenty and security she is still contriving mischief. A hundred years ago she did her best with what she found in us, to keep our hands and hearts turned against each other and make us destroy ourselves by war. She added her own peculiar little contribution to thatthe pestilence. Well, we won that battle.
"People forget already how hardly it was won. Now she wants to turn our very success against us, tempt us to be indolent, fantastic, idlers and pleasure-loversbetraying ourselves in another fashion. A hundred years ago men like you said that war didn't matter, and it was my sort had to end it. And now you say going on doesn't matter.
"Life couldn't be better. Let the new generation playwaste the life that is in them . . . A planet-load of holidaymakers, spinning to destruction. Just a crowning festival before the dark."
THE Hall of the Athletic Club. It is a glazed loggia, a half out-of-doors place, and it has immense windows of flexible glass. Outside are water chutes down which athletes (of either sex) flash with great swiftness. What they do is not very clear.
It is as if they skied down a waterfall. You get only a dim impression of people flashing by and of rushing water and a rocky waterfall. A few spectators stand within the loggia, and there is a coming and going of young athletes and visitors.
Cabal and Passworthy enter. They approach one of the immense windows. A spectator stands there already. The spectator follows excitedly the feats outside. He leans against the glass. The flexible glass gives to the pressure and produces a distorted view of the rocky scene outside. Then as the spectator withdraws his hand the window adjusts itself.
Passworthy: "Here again every day someone is injured or killed. Why should anyone be killed?"
From the doorway Catherine Cabal and Maurice Passworthy approach. The two young people are now both in athletic costumes, very light, revealing their graceful young bodies. Catherine Cabal is a little slighter than Maurice, pretty but determined. They come forward to greet their parents, a little shyly. Maurice halts. Catherine goes up to her father, looks him in the eyes for a moment, is satisfied by what she sees there, and kisses him. He holds her to him for a moment and then releases her. Neither says a word.
Passworthy (trying to take things rightly): "Well, young people. What have you been doing?"
Maurice: "Just a turn at the water chutes. No time for anything else."
Passworthy: "How many killed to-day?"
Maurice: "No one. One fellow slipped and broke his thighbut he's being taken care of. He'll be well in a week. I just missed him as he fell. Or I might have come a cropper, too."
Passworthy: "Isn't life dangerous enough without doing these things?"
Maurice: " My dear Father, it isn't nearly dangerous enough for a properly constituted animal. Since the world began life has been living by the skin of its teeth. It's used to it and it's built that way. And that's what's the matter with us now."
Passworthy: "That's your philosophy, Cabal. My boy has learnt his lesson."
Cabal: " Not my philosophy. The philosophy of the new world."
Catherine, unable to remain uncertain any longer: "Father, are we to go?"
Cabal: "Yesyou are to go."
Catherine: " It is announced?"
Passworthy, dismayed: "It's announced?"
Cabal: "Why not?"
Passworthy: "Butmy son!"
Cabal: "The boy is of age. He has volunteered."
Passworthy: "But I want to talk it over first. I want to talk it over. Why have you announced it so soon? Anyhow there is still plenty of time to talk it over."
A pause. Very intense scrutiny of faces. Catherine and Maurice look at each other and then at their parents.
Passworthy: "I suppose we have some months yet."
Catherine: "It is just one month and three days. Everything is ready now."
Maurice: "We could go now. The moon is coming into the right position even while we are talking. But they are waiting a month longer. To make sure."
Cabal takes his arm.
Cabal: "There is still a month and more ahead of us. Let us talk it over calmly, Passworthy. There is a month yet. This is a shock to you. It was a shock for me. But perhaps it is less dreadfuland something greaterthan you think. Consider it for a day or so. Let us all dine togetherlet us meet in three days' time, and tell each other plainly all that we have in our minds."
Cabal is shown in close-up with Passworthy: "I won't come back to the city with you. There is someone else to whom I must talk. I have to talk."
Passworthy: "No one is as closely interested as we are."
Cabal: "I don't know. She has a kind of claim. Many people would say it was as strong a claim as ours."
Passworthy: "And who is that?"
Cabal: "Catherine's mother. The woman who used to be my wife . . . Didn't you know I had a wife? Or do you think Catherine came suddenly out of my head? Like Pallas Athene? I had a wife and she was very much a woman and we parted years ago."
The Space Gun
EVENING passes to twilight. After-sunset glow in the sky. A terrace with clipped yew trees (new type of yew) looking out over a wide landscape with the sea in the distance. Standing out against the sea is a huge heavy mortar-like structure. This is the Space Gun.
It is our first sight of this. It crouches monstrously, dwarfing every other detail in the landscape. A certain mistiness enhances, if anything, its portentous dimensions.
An aeroplane sweeps down and its shadow passed across the terrace.
A momentary glimpse is given of Cabal descending from the plane he has flown to this place. Then the camera returns to the terrace to await him.
Cabal enters and walks slowly to the terrace balustrade. He stands musing, looking at the Space Gun. His hands are behind his back. So he remains for some moments.
He turns at a footfall and Rowena enters. Rowena is the descendant of Roxana, the favourite of the Boss of Everytown in 1970, just as Oswald Cabal is the descendant of John Cabal. She is physically like her prototype, but she has none of the arms-akimbo dash of her ancestress. She is better bred. She is dressed much more beautifully and with nothing of Roxana's sluttish magnificence, and her gestures are well, under control.
Rowena: "And so at last I am permitted to see you again."
Cabal: "You heard the news quickly, Rowena."
Rowena: "It is all over the world now."
Rowena: "On the air everywhere. The whole world talks of nothing else. Why have you done this thing to me? Our daughter!"
Cabal: "Our daughter! My daughter. You left her to me when you went away. And she goesof her own free will."
Rowena: "Because you have poisoned her mind. She, I suppose, is one of the new sort of women just as you are one of the new sort of men. Do you do not care for her, simply because you have never let me see her?"
Cabal: "Usually you have been on the other side of the earth. Love-hunting."
Rowena: " Reproach me! All the same I care. Who left me love-hungry? . . . Cabal, have you no pity? Have you no imagination? If I cannot forbidwell, then I implore. Think of that body of hersscarcely more than a child's bodycrushed, broken, frozen!"
Cabal: "I won't. One can think too much of bodies, Rowena."
The Old Love Story
Rowena: "Hard you are and terrible. What are you doing with life, Cabal?"
Cabal: "Soft you are and sensuous. What are you doing with life?"
Rowena: "You turn it to steel."
Cabal: "You fritter it away."
Rowena: "Who made me fritter it away? I have been wanting to meet you face to face for years, and have this out with you. I hated leaving you. But you made life too high and hard for me."
Cabal: "I hated you going. But you made life too distracted and vexatious for me. I loved youbut loving you was an all-time task. I had work to do."
Rowena: "What work?"
Cabal: "The everlasting work of fighting danger and death and decay for mankind."
Rowena: " Fanatic! Where are danger and death to-day?"
Cabal: " In ambush everywhere."
Rowena: " You go out to meet them."
Cabal: " I had rather be the hunter than the hunted."
Rowena: "But if you are hunting danger and death all the time, what is there left of life?" Cabal: " Courage, adventure, workand an increasing power and greatness."
Rowena: " Give me love."
Cabal: " You left me for that. Poor love-huntress. My love wasn't good enoughnot flattering enoughnot sedulous enough. Have you ever found that love of your dreams? Was there ever a lover who made you feel as glorious as you wanted to be? Could any lover do that? Wherever you found love, you gripped it as a child plucks a flowerand you killed it."
Rowena: " Have I been anything but human? "
Cabal: " No."
Rowena: " I have loved after my nature. Even if at last I have to grow old and die."
Cabal: " But let me live after my nature. You may want love, but I want the stars."
Rowena: " But love too! You wanted human love once Cabal."
Cabal: " I wanted my work more."
Rowena: " But isn't that girl of ours at least human? As I am? Isn't she entitled to the freshness of lifeto the novelty of life. Is she to begin where you leave off? Suppose after all love does come to an endgets found out? Why shouldn't she have her years of delusion and excitement? "
Cabal: "And end in futility? Left behind by all your loving? Painted? In an imitation of youth? Clinging to passion? "
Rowena: " Oh, you can sting. Which of the two is futility? To obey your impulses or deny them? That girl. I tell you, is a human being and she has to follow the human way. She is a woman."
Cabal: " Not one of the old sort, Rowena. Not of your sort. Do you think that everything else in human life is going to alter, scale and power and speed, and men and women remain as they have always been? This is a New World we are living in. It drives to new and greater destinies. And that desperate old love story, which has been acted and told so often. as though it was the very core of life, is almost finished with."
Rowena: " And you think she has finished with it? "
Cabal: " What do you know of our daughter? What do you know, you love-huntress, of the creative drive a woman can feel as well as a man? She has loved and she loves; she has found a mate and they are driving on together. Shoulder to shoulder. Almost forgetting each other in their happy identification. She lives for the endless adventureas he lives for the endless adventure. And that is the increase of human knowledge and powerfor ever . . ."
The two fade out.
CABAL is in his brightly-lit office again. He still wears his out-of-doors cloak and he sits down with a certain weariness.
He turns to the apparatus on his desk. " And now let us hear what Mr. Theotocopulos has to say about it all. This is the time for him."
He touches a button.
" I want to hear and see Theotocopulos. He must be talking now upon the mirrors everywhere."
Then the scene is changed to a great open space, in which a big crowd has assembled before a gigantic screen at the head of a flight of stairs.
Theotocopulos is seen in the midst of a group of friends.
He is no longer in his sculptor's overalls. He is dressed in an ornate, richly-embroidered, coloured satin costume, with a great cloak about him, which he flourishes dramatically. He is ascending by the side of the gigantic screen, in comparison with which he and his party are quite minute. They glance at the crowd, and their voices are lost in the general babble. They pass behind the gigantic mirror, and then, suddenly Theotocopulos appears in the mirror, vastly magnified, and his voice dominates all other sounds.
The crowd of small figures sways with excitement as he prepares to begin.
Then the picture goes back to Cabal sitting in his study and preparing to listen to the discourse of Theotocopulos. The room is silent. Then a confused sound, like the sound of a crowd, is heard and the televisor disc becomes cloudy. Cabal makes an adjustment and the sounds and the picture become clear together.
Theotocopulos is speaking:
" What is all this Progress? What is the good of this Progress? Onward and onward. We demand a halt, we demand a rest. The object of life is happy living . . . "
(Cabal: "One would think the object of life was everlasting repetition.")
" We will not have life sacrificed to experiment. Progress is not living, it should only be the preparation for living.
" Let us be just to these people who rule over us. Let us not be ungrateful. They have tidied up the world. They have tidied it up marvellously. Order and magnificence is achieved, knowledge increases. Oh God, how it increases!" (Laughter.)
(Cabal grimly: " So they laugh at that.")
" Still the hard drive goes on. They find work for all of us. We thought this was to be the Age of Leisure. But is it? We must measure and compute, we must collect and sort and count. We must sacrifice ourselves. We must live forwhat is it?the species. We must sacrifice ourselves all day and every day to this incessant spreading of knowledge and order.
" We gain the whole worldand at what a price! Greater sacrifices and still greater. And at last they lead us back to the supreme sacrificethe sacrifice of human life. They stage the old Greek tragedy again, and a father offers up his daughter to his evil gods."
With an impatient movement Cabal extinguishes the televisor. " And that voice is sounding over all the world. I wonder what the world is making of it."
He faces his apartment.
" We might suppress it.
" Make an end of free expression. That would be the beginning of the end of progress.
" No. They have to hear him, and make what they can of him. But I wish I could be all over the world now. listening with every listener. What will they make of him?"
New World Debates
A SEQUENCE of scenes and passing shots portray the enormous range and the simultaneousness of thought and discussion in the new world.
The discourse of Theotocopulos on the wireless goes on almost uninterruptedly, except for occasional shouts and outcries, until at last he comes to his end. He appears in different mirrors and in different frames, and at times he is heard and not seen.
But the reality of a single person being able to speak to the whole world, so far as it is interested and will listen, and the swiftness with which a common response can be evoked at the same time in every part of the earth where listeners can be found is made plain.
We see first of all the backs of a considerable number of people who are dining together. They give a glimpse of the fashions of 2055 and the tableware of an eating place. They look up at a large frame, in which Theotocopulos is seen and heard talking. The crowd is attentive but displays little reaction to his speech.
Then the flash passes to the edge of a swimming pool or to the border of a lawn, on which a number of young people in athletic clothing applaud a wrestler who has just put down an antagonist. A man stands up and switches on a televisor and everybody listens. Some of them mutter comments to each other and opinion is divided.
Then one passes to a number of scientific people working in a laboratory. Theotocopulos is seen talking on the televisor. One man is irritated and says: " Oh, stop his nonsense." Theotocopulos is switched off.
Then an Oriental young woman with, a fan, reclining indolently on a couch under a window that looks out upon palms, listens gravely to an oval televisor on which Theotocopulos continues his speech.
Then there is a mountain hut with a glass window giving upon a violent snowstorm. Two workers in Arctic costume occupy the hut; one lies on a bed; the other sits at a table and listens to the voice on the wireless. They switch it off. "I suppose that rubbish appeals to the crowds in the town. What do they know of real work?"
A group of modellers is seen in a studio. It is large, but not fundamentally different from an art studio of to-day. There have been no great changes in the plastic arts. In the background is the televisor. An artist is focusing this, and Theotocopulos becomes visible and audible .. .
First Modeller: " Hear! Hear!"
Second Modeller: " No! No!"
He turns the televisor off : " A man has a right to do what he likes with himself."
First Modeller: " Never. That Space Gun ought to be destroyed. And now!"
Third Modeller: "The things ought to stop. Look !" He takes up a model.
All: " Good for Theotocopulos."
Fourth Modeller: " But here!" He holds up an ugly caricature of Cabal. (Laughter.)
THE address by Theotocopulos is:
" These people who are so kind as to manage our world for us declare that they leave us free to do as we please, they assert in season and out of season that never has there been such freedom as we have to-day. And as the price of this limitless freedom we enjoy, they ask us to ignore the hard and dreadful persistence of their own inhuman researches.
" But is our freedom really the freedom they pretend it is? Is a man free who cannot protest at what he sees and hears? We want the freedom to arrest. We want the freedom to prevent. Have they the right to use the resources of this world to torment us by the spectacle of their cruel and mad adventures? Have they the right to mar the very peace of our starry heavens by human sacrifices?
" I tell you this science and exploration of theirs is no more and no less than the spirit of self-immolation returning to the earth in a new disguise. No more and no less. It is the old black spirit of human subjugation, Jove, the pitiless monster, coming back in the midst of our freedom and abundancethe old dark seriousnessthe stern, unnecessary devotions. What has brought it back? Why have we all this insistence on duty and sacrifice for the young on discipline, self-restraint, and strain now? What is the need for it now? What does it mean? What does it portend?
" In the old days, as we all know, there lay deep, dark shadows on the happiness of men, and these shadows were called religions. You have heard of them. Puritanism and the mortification of the flesh, shaven heads and cropped spirits. Thou shalt and Thou shalt not, oppressing the free hearts of men. You have learned about these tyrannies of the spirit in your histories.
" Those old religions were had enough with their sacrifices and vowstheir horrible celibacy, their gloomy chantings. their persecutions and inquisitions. We thought we were free of religions for ever. But have they really left usor have they merely adopted new names and fresh masks?
" Make no mistake about it! The servitudes they put upon themselves to-day they will impose upon the whole world to-morrow. Is man never to rest, never to be free? A time will come when they will want more cannon fodder for their Space Gunswhen you in your turn will be forced away to take your chance upon strange planets and in dreary and abominable places beyond the friendly stars.
"I tell you we must stop this insensate straining towards strange and inhuman experiences and we must stop it now. I say: An end to this Progress. Make an end to Progress now.
" We are content with the simple, sensuous, limited, lovable life of man. and we want no other. Between the dark past of history and the incalculable future let us snatch to-day and live. What is the future to us? Give the earth peace and leave our human lives alone."
10 Miles Below
A PHOSPHORESCENT drusy cavity deep in the earth. A drusy cavity is a cavity in a rock into which minerals have been free to crystallise for immemorial ages.
There are big, dark and light crystals in crowded confusion.
Into this the nose of a borer pierces its way laterally and comes to a stop. It withdraws, and two young men and a girl, in shiny, white, close-fitting clothes with glow lamps on their foreheads. creep into the cavernous space.
First Young Man: " Here we are. 10 miles below the surface. And no molten rock, but instead this Aladdin's cave."
The Girl: " And precious stones! What wouldn't my great-grandmother have given for them!"
Second Young Man: "I wonder what is going on up above."
He is carrying a small televisor on his chest in the position of a breast-pocket, and he swings it into position to look at it.
The others look also over his shoulder. The televisor shows Theotocopulos bowing and turning away. Sound effect: A rush of applause.
The Girl: " It's Theotocopulos. He's finished. But we know what he had to say. We have heard it all before. Is there anything else?"
First Young Man: " This Theotocopulos is an old imbecile."
Second Young Man: " The dear little children are not to take risks any more for ever. Just play with their little painties and sing their little songs."
First Young Man: " And find out nice, new, peculiar ways of making lovey-povey."
Second Young Man: " But, mind you. that stuff is going to stir up a lot of the lazy people in the towns. They hate this endless exploration and experimenting. What business is it of theirs? It's a sort of envy they feel. It wounds their pride. They do not want to do this work themselves. but they cannot suffer anyone else to do it . . . "
THE scene changes to the crowd which has assembled before the great central screen behind which Theotocopulos has been talking. The crowd is dispersing and we see their faces.
One man says to another: " He's right. The Space Gun is an offence to every human instinct."
A Woman: " If I was that man Passworthy I would kill Cabal."
A Man: " It makes me long for the good old days when there was honest warfare and simple devotion to honour and the flag. Space Guns, indeed! What is the world coming to?"
The Woman: " I wish I'd lived in the good old days before all this horrible science took possession of us."
Three very old men sit in a pretty vine-covered arbour drinking and talking. They are hale and hearty. They might well be lean, good-looking old gentlemen of 60. Like all the people of the new age, their abundant hair is trim and neatbut artificially silvered.
First Old Man: "To-day is my birthday."
Second Old Man: " And how much is that?"
First Old Man: "A hundred and two."
Second Old Man: "I'm only ninety-eight."
Third Old Man: " But I score a hundred and nine."
First Old Man: " Where should we have been a century ago?"
Second Old Man: "Under the earth."
First Old Man: "Or worse."
Third Old Man breaks into song: " Oh your glasses raise to the good old days."
Chorus: " Gout and rheumatics and toothless jaws."
Solo: " That are gone for ever, to God be praise.
" The dark and the haste and the dirty ways.
" Diabetes and body rot,
" Deafness and blindness, the pitiful rot."
Chorus: " Gout and rheumatics and toothless jaws."
Third Old Man: " Of ancient men in the good old days."
They drink to each other.
First Old Man, after an appreciative pause: " And that's one for Theotocopulos."
In the Laboratory
NURSERY of children. Anno 2055. They play with plasticine, draw on sheets of paper (as they do at Dartington), build with bricks, or run about after each other. There may be a Siamese or white Persian kitten in the party or tame red squirrels scampering about.
Two women in the foreground converse.
First Woman: " In 1900 one infant in every six died in the first year. Now it is the rarest thing in the world :or an infant to die."
Second Woman: " Was it one in six?"
First Woman: " That was the best in all the world. That was the English rate. And out of every hundred women who bore children, three were doomed to die. Think of it: Thousands of them every year. Death in childbirth is new a thing unheard of. But that was the natural way of life."
A very great scientific laboratory in the year 2055. It is in tier above tier in a huge space, so that there are hundreds of workers, men and women, mostly clad in white overalls, visible. Scientific work has become multitudinous. They work at benches and tables. At certain points there are vivid splutterings of light. In the foreground two men are watching some brightly illuminated globes and tanks in which small fish-like creatures are seen moving, not very distinctly.
Their attention is called to something off the screen and there enters a woman carrying a very intelligent-looking little dog.
First Scientific Worker: "Hullo! What have you got there?"
The Woman: " This is the last word in Canine Genetics. Pavlov started this work in Russia six score years ago. Look at this little dear. It can almost talk. It will never have distemper. It will live to be thirty, good and strong. And it runs like the wind. Wag your tail, my darling, and thank Uncle Science for your blessings."
Somebody shouts to the other workers: "The Dog up to date. Come and look."
Workers on various of the tiers leave their benches and come down to see. Others intent on their work disregard the excitement. A little crowd assembles about the new specimen.
Second Scientific Worker: " We must teach him to bite Theotocopulos."
Third Scientific Worker, with disgust: " Oh! Theotocopulos."
The Woman: "The dear old world! I suppose you and I would have been working in a slum for fourpence an hour instead of being friends with the very best little dog in the world." Petting. " Ain't it? Yess."
Crowd about the dog.
First Scientific Worker: " Most of us would hardly have learned to readand we should have been clerks and drudges."
Second Scientific Worker: " Or out-of-works."
The Woman: " And now there is always something new and something exciting. Oh! save me from that natural life of man?'
First Scientific Worker: " What is the natural life of man?"
Second Scientific Worker: " Live and fleas. Endless infections. Croup to begin with and cancer to finish. Rotten teeth by forty. Andger and spite. . . . And yet these fools listen to Theotocopulos. They want Romance! They want flags back. War and all the nice human things. They think we are Robotsand that drilled soldiers in the old days weren't. They want the Dear Old World of the Pastand an end to all this wicked Science !. . . ."
Cabal Gets a Call
THE scene is an ante-room to the dining alcove where Cabal, Passworthy, Catherine and Maurice are to dine. They dine at half-past four or five, for dinner has got back to the hours it had in the seventeenth, century and lunch has disappeared. People breakfast, dine and sup, and there is a great variety about the meal hours, because there is no twenty-four hour alternation now of light and darkness.
The alcove is a sort of glazed balcony projecting over one of the great City Ways. When the glass is closed, it is quite silent. When it is opened sounds come up from below. On a couch Maurice and Catherine sit close together and very content with each other. They look up as if through the transparent ceiling at something in the air and then stand up as Passworthy appears through a small door that leads from above.
Passworthy: "And so we've had our three days for reflection. Haven't you two thought better of it? "
Maurice: " We couldn't think better of it, father. Don't make things hard for us."
Passworthy to Catherine: "Where is your father? "
Catherine: " He was coming here with me, but he had a call from Morden Mitani, who had something urgent to say to him."
Passworthy: "Morden Mitani? "
Catherine: " The Controller of Traffic and Order. My father waited behind to talk to him."
Cabal's apartment. Cabal is greeting Morden Mitani, who is an efficient, good-looking man in a dark costume. Cabal says: " I was starting out to dine in the Cupola buildings. I am already overdue."
Morden Mitani: " Then I won't keep you here talking. I will come with you towards the Cupola through the City Ways. It will be best like that. There are things I want you to see and know about."
Song of Revolt
ONE of the City Ways. Morden Mitani and Cabal walk across the scene and arrive at a vantage point on a high bridge looking down over a great arena far below.
Mitani: " That is what I want you to see."
Far below a little straggle of people is gathering into a sort of procession. They are singing a song of revolt.
Cabal: " What are they doing? Is it some procession? It straggles a lot."
Mitani: " That'swhat do they call it? A demonstration. Trouble."
Cabal: " But what's the trouble?"
Mitani draws him back behind a pilaster. Other people come to the bridge in order to see the crowd below. They do not observe Cabal and Mitani.
Mitani (in a low tone): "That is the outcome of Theotocopulos. He ought never to have been allowed to talk on the mirrors."
Cabal: " The world must have free speech. We can't go back on that. People must think for themselves."
Mitani: " Then the world will have to have policemen again. Just to keep people from acting too quickly on a chance suggestion."
Cabal: " What can he do?"
Mitani: " People are taking him very seriously. They are taking him very seriously. They want to stop the firing of the Space Gun by force. They talk ofhow do they put it? Rescuing the victims."
Cabal: " But what is this? If the victims choose to go? "
Mitani: " Still they object."
Cabal: " And if they object?"
Mitani: " They will interfere with things. They are makingwhat did they use to call it? an insurrection. That down there is insurrection."
Cabal: " Against whom?"
Mitani: " Against the Council."
Cabal: " An insurrection! I cannot imagine it. In the past insurrections were risings of downtrodden classesand now we have no downtrodden classes. Everyone does a share in the work and everyone has a share in the abundance. Can mankind rise against itself? No. That down there is justa little excitement. What can Theotocopulos do with it?"
Mitani: " He gathers large crowds. That sort of thing is going on all over the city. We have no police, no troops. no weapons nowadays to keep crowds in order. We thought that was done with for ever. Rescue the victims from Cabal,' he says. He keeps on against you. 'Rescue the victims from Cabal.'"
Cabal: " Isn't one of them my daughter?My only daughter."
Mitani: " He says that merely shows your hardness of heartshows what a monster science may make out of a man. He compares you with those Greek parents who sent their children to the Minotaur."
Cabal: " And if I sent other people's children and saved my own?"
Mitani: " You'd be in the wrong with him anyway."
Cabal: " But after allwhat can he do?"
Mitani: " There is the Space Gun out on the seashore. It is hardly guarded at all. Nothing has been guarded on this planet for the past. fifty years."
Cabal: " Then you'll have to organise some sort of guard. After all you have your way-men and your inspection airplanes. That ought to be enough. And if there is much disturbance isn't there still the Gas of Peace?"
Mitani: " There is none."
Cabal: "Is there none? "
Mitani: " Officially anyhow. There has been no need of it. The world has been orderly because it has been happy, and it has been happy because everyone has had something to do. There has been no reason to keep any of that gas. There has been no use for it for 70 years. But now I want to call up the Council and get a sanction to make it at onceand use it if need be."
Cabal: " Call the Council, but won't that take too long?"
Mitani: " Well, I have been anticipating a little. I have been having some made."
Cabal: " That is right. We can endorse that."
Mitani: " In a few hours some tons at any rate will be ready and our planes will be ready to distribute it. But still it will take a little time. Some hours, perhaps."
Cabal: " That old Gas of Peace. We shall hate to use it again. But if the people will not give us the freedom of outer spacewe shall have to use it."
Mitani: " I have your support then in what I am doing?"
Cabal: " Fully. Yet all this is incredible to me. Insurrection! Against exploration! Mankind turning upon science and adventure. Wanting to call a halt. It's a mood, Mitani."
Mitani: " It is a dangerous mood."
Cabal: " It's a fit of nervesat the thought of stepping off this planet and leaping into space. Wellfirst we must save the gun."
Mitani: " That first."
Cabal in soliloquy: " Have we been making the pace too hard for Humanity? Humanity! What is humanity? Is it Theotocopulos? Is it dear old Passworthy? Is it I?"
THE dining alcove. Far below the streets are seen. The meal is nearly finished. Cabal, Passworthy, Catherine and Maurice. Passworthy looks at the young people. Presently he speaks.
Passworthy: " Isn't life good enough for you here? Here you I are in a safe and lovely world. Young lovers. Just beginning life. And you want to go into that outer horror! Let someone go who is sick of life."
Catherine: " They want fit young people, alert and quick. And we are fit young people. We can observe, we can come back and tell."
Passworthy: " Cabal! I want to ask you one plain question. Why do you let your daughter dream of going on this mad moon journey?"
Cabal is sitting silently in thought. Now he looks at his daughter and answers slowly: " Because I love her. Because I want her to live to the best effect. Dragging out life to the last possible second isn't living to the best effect. The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat. The best of life, Passworthy, lies nearest to the edge of death."
CATHERINE stretches out her hand to him. Cabal takes Catherine's hand.
Passworthy: " I am a broken man. I do not know where honour lies."
Cabal (to his daughter): " My dear, I love youand I have no doubt."
Maurice: "A century ago, no man who was worth his salt hesitated to give his life in war. When I read about those fellows in the trenches"
Cabal: " No. Only a few men gave their lives in war. Those few men were caught in some tragic and noble necessity. What the rest did was to risk their livesand that is all you two have to do. You have to do your utmost to come back safe and sound. And you are not the only ones who are taking risks. to-day. Have we not men exploring the depths of the sea. training and making friends with dangerous animals and with danger in every shape and form. playing with gigantic physical forces,, balancing on the rims of lakes of molten metal"
Passworthy: " But all that is to make the world safe for Mansafe for happiness."
Cabal: " No. The world will never be safe for manand there is no happiness in safety. You haven't got things right. Passworthy. Our fathers and our fathers' fathers cleaned up the old order of things because it killed children, because it killed people unprepared for death. because it tormented people in vain, because it outraged human pride and dignity. because it was an ugly spectacle of waste. But that was only the beginning. There is nothing wrong in suffering, if you suffer for a purpose. Our revolution did not abolish death or danger. It simply made death and danger worth while."
Morden Mitani enters suddenly. He is in a state of intense excitement. Cabal stands up abruptly with an anxious face.
Mitani: "Cabal! The gun is in urgent danger. It is a race against time now to save it. Things have happened very rapidly. Theotocopulos is out with a crowd of people already. He is going to the Space Gun now. They are going to break it up. They say it is the symbol of your tyranny."
Cabal: " Have they weapons?"
Mitani: " Bars of metal. They can smash electric cables. They can do no end of mischief."
Cabal: "Are there no weapons on our side? Cannot your traffic control produce a police?"
Mitani: " Very few . . . . We have nothing but the Gas of Peace. And it isn't ready. It will take hours yet. There are some young people we can gather. We must hold this crowd back at any costfor a time: until the Gas of Peace can be brought up."
Passworthy, at a window: " Look!"
Cabal and the rest come to the window. Passworthy points to the streets far below. He opens the window. There is the sound of the crowd marching and singing their song of revolt. Cabal and his party looking down.
A TECHNICAL assistant hurries in and goes up to Mitani. He speaks but is inaudible. Cabal makes gesture to the window, which Mitani closes.
Assistant: " It is a riot. It is barbarism come back."
Cabal: " Who are you?"
Assistant shows the identification disk on his gauntlet. Disk with inscription: " William Jeans. Astronomical StaffSpace Gun."
Mitani: " They must go afoot. We have stopped the air ways. They will take an hour or more to get there. Even those who have started already. And then they will hesitate."
Assistant: " That gun must not be broken up. That vast piece of work. The pity of it!if they smash it! When the trial experiments have all been made! When everything was ready!"
Maurice: "When everything was ready." He is struck by a thought; he looks at Catherine. Catherine understands him.
Passworthy: "And if they smash up this infernal gunthen honour is satisfied and you need not go."
Maurice: " Oh, Father! Father!"
Cabal: " They won't smash the gun."
Maurice, eagerly to assistant: " Suppose the gun was fired now? Would the cylinder reach the moon?"
Assistant, looking at his watch: " It would miss now and fly into outer space. But . . . it is now five. If the gun is fired about seven. . . ."
Catherine: "And ... it could be?"
Assistant: " Yes."
Maurice and Catherine look at each other. They understand each other.
Catherine: " Then . . . "
Maurice: "We go now."
Cabal: "And why not?"
Assistant: " That is perfectly possible."
Passworthy cries out: "I protest! . . . Oh! I don't know what to say. Don't go. Don't go."
Maurice: " If we don't go nowwe may never go. And all the rest of our lives we shall feel that we have shirked, and lived in vain This supremely is what we two are for . . . Father, we have to go."
A tunnel leading out of the city. Mob groups from different city entrances collecting together and marching to the gun. (This mob, by the by, is as well dressed as any other people in the film. It has the well-groomed look which is universal in the new world. It is not a social conflict we are witnessing. It is not the Haves attacked attacked by the hAVE-nOTS; IT IS THE Doers attacked by the Do-Nots.)
IN an aeroplane. Cabal, Passworthy, Catherine and Maurice. They are flying to the gun. They look out of the windows. The gun is seen in the distance like a great metallic beast brooding among the hills.
Through the windows we see next that the plane is descending vertically close to the Space Gun. First clouds, then cliff, and then through great girders, cables and machinery. The plane comes to rest close to the colossal shock absorbers of the gun.
Mitani meets Cabal, Passworthy, Catherine and Maurice as they are getting out of the aeroplane, and they look upwards at the gun. The camera reveals the massive proportions of this structure.
The Space Gun, monumental, tremendous, overwhelming. On the framework are young athletes who discover Catherine and Maurice and hail them enthusiastically. Catherine and Maurice go towards their friends. Fraternal reception. Cabal, Passworthy and Mitani follow slowly.
They come to a lift. Cabal and Pass¬worthy stand at the entrance. Mitani is beside the door.
Mitani to Cabal: " Go up to the platform. We can guard this below."
Cabal and Passworthy enter the lift.
The lift arrives on a high platform a score of yards or so below the level of the cylinder which is to he slot at the moon. This hangs at present over the mouth of the gun, and is held by almost invisible delicate metal supports.
Cabal comes out from the lift upon this high platform, followed by Passworthy. Cabal goes to a railing and looks down. In the distance are Theotocopulos and his crowd advancing through the supports towards the Space Gun. Cabal, Passworthy, Catherine, and Maurice stand on the platform. They look up. The cylinder is seen close above their heads being lowered slowly towards the muzzle of the gun.
The insurrectionary song increases in volume as it draws nearer. Theotocopulos and his mob appear. They appear at the edge of the cliff, they come up against the sky and no difficulties in production must be allowed to minimise the dramatic effect of their appearance upon the cliff edge.
They stop abruptly(the song stops also)and they stare. Shots of Theotocopulos and his crowd staring
The cylinder being lowered until it hangs at the mouth of the gun. Theotocopulos discovers Cabal and points: "There is the man"
Cries of indignation.
THE camera passes slowly over to Cabal across the framework and structures about the gun, giving the impression of a great gulf between the two men. The subsequent conversation is shouted by means of amplifiers across a great space. These amplifiers are indicated, but not obtrusively.
Behind Cabal are Passworthy, Catherine and Maurice. A young mechanic approaches them.
Mechanic: " Everything is ready."
There is a moment of tension.
Catherine takes a quite silent leave of her father. Maurice grips Passworthy's hands in both of his in an attempt to reassure him and give him courage and dignity.
Catherine and Maurice turn away, followed by the mechanic.
Theotocopulos (off ): " There is the man who would offer up his daughter to the Devil of Science."
Cabal becomes aware of these words, and is roused by them: he walks to the railing and addresses Theotocopulos: " What do you want here?"
THEOTOCOPULOS: " We want to save these young people from your experiments. We want to put an end to this inhuman foolery. We want to make the world safe for men. We mean to destroy that gun."
Cabal: " And how will you do that?"
Theotocopulos: " Oh, we have electricians with us, too!"
Cabal: " We have a right to do what we like with our own liveswith our sort of lives."
Theotocopulos: " How can we do that when your science and inventions are perpetually changing life for uswhen you are everlastingly rebuilding and contriving strange things about us? When you make what we think great seem small. When you make what we think strong seem feeble. We don't want you in the same world with us. We don't want this expedition. We don't want mankind to go out to the moon and the planets. We shall hate you more if you succeed than if you fail. Is there never to be rest in this world?"
The picture returns to Passworthy and Cabal on the platform.
Passworthy has listened to the dialogue suffering mutely. Now he turns upon Cabal. But he shouts for everyone to hear
Passworthy: " Yes, I, too, ask you, is there never to be rest? Never? This is my son. And he has rebelled against me. What he does. he does against the instincts of my heart. Cabal, I implore you. Is there never to be calm and happiness for mankind?"
A tremendous outburst greets his words from the mob. The picture passes to the crowd. They begin to move by a common impulse towards the Space Gun. We see them first as a flash of faces and then from very far off. They are seen then like a streaming multitude of ants pouring across the floor of a big room.
THE top of the Space Gun with the cylinder in its muzzle. Catherine and Maurice stand by a screw door, which resembles the window of a liner's porthole, in the bottom of the cylinder. They have special clothes on now, very simple, and close to the body. They are assisted by mechanics to take their places within the cylinder.
The crowd scrambles down lattices from the cliff edge towards the gun.
Inside the cylinder, which is lit from below. Catherine and Maurice, hanging to their handfasts. spread-eagle fashion. The faces of the mechanics are seen below. Maurice looks at Catherine.
Maurice: " Do you want to go back?"
Catherine smiles: " Hold firm, my dear."
The door of the cylinder is screwed in slowlygradually the scene becomes dark, until it is quite dark, and the faces and figures of Catherine and Maurice are lost in the darkness.
THE crowd is seen swarming upon the framework over against the gun.
On the platform Mitani looks down at the crowd and then at his wrist watch. He looks up at the cylinder.
The cylinder from below. It is very slowly lowered and it disappears entirely into the gun. Its supports are detached and retire.
The crowd is seen clambering amidst the framework at the base of the gun.
Cabal is seen standing alone. He is moved by his own thoughts and feelings to speech. He comes to the railing: " Listen. Theotocopulos! If I wished to give way to you. I could not. It is not we who war against the order of things. but you. Either life goes forward or it goes back. That is the law of life."
Theotocopulos dismisses the argument by a gesture: " We will destroy the gun."
His following shout agreement and resume their scattered unplanned advance.
Cabal and Passworthy are seen on the platform, and in the background stands a mechanic in front of the small heavy open door of a concussion chamber. Cabal leans over a railing watching the crowd below.
Cabal (shouting down): "Before you can reach the base of the gun, it will be fired. Beware of the concussion."
He turns back. Passworthy motionless. Cabal pulls Passworthy towards the heavy door.
The mob is seen on the ground swarming about the gun supports. People. many of whom carry heavy metallic bars, are attempting to injure the big metallic masses.
A TABLE in an observation chamber. A hand rests by a button, waiting. There is a clock dial with a long delicate seconds hand.
Cabal's voice: " Beware!"
" Beware of the concussion."
The crowd hesitates. The noise of a heavy iron door as it clangs shut. A silence of expectation. The crowd realises it is too late. It wavers and then turns and begins to clamber down through the lattices into which it has struggled, and to run away in the spaces below the gun.
The table and the hand in the observation chamber. The seconds hand of the clock dial moves towards a marked point. As it does so the finger extends and presses a button.
Large scale effects of concussion. Gun recoiling. Whirlwind sweeping the crowd.
Theotocopulos, standing out against the sky on a great metal girder, is caught in the whirlwind. and his cloak is blown over his head. He is left struggling ridiculously in his own cloak. and that is the last that is seen of him.
Clouds of dust obscure the screen and clear to show the crowd after the shock.
Some press their ears as if they were painful, others stare under their hands up into the sky.
Then the crowd begins to stream back towards the city. Shots of them re-entering the city, in a straggling aimless manner, and pausing ever and again to stare at the sky.
AN observatory at a high point above Everytown. A telescopic mirror of the night sky showing the cylinder as a very small speck and Passworthy stand before this against a starry background. Cabal and Passworthy stand before this mirror.
Cabal: "There! There they go! That faint gleam of light."
Passworthy: "I feelwhat we have done ismonstrous."
Cabal: " What they have done is magnificent."
Passworthy: " Will they return?"
Cabal: " Yes. And go again. And againuntil the landing can be made and the moon is conquered. This is only a beginning."
Passworthy: " And if they don't returnmy son, and your daughter? What of that, Cabal?"
Cabal (with a catch in his voice, but resolute): " Then presentlyothers will go."
Passworthy: " My God! Is there never to be an age of happiness? Is there never to be rest?"
Cabal: " Rest enough for the individual man. Too much of it and too soon, arid we call it death. But for MAN no rest and no ending. He must go onconquest beyond conquest. This little planet and its winds and ways, and all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him and at last out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries of timestill he will be beginning."'
Passworthy: " But we are such little creature. Poor humanity. So fragile so weak."
Cabal: " Little animals, eh?"
Passworthy: " Little animals."
Cabal: " If we are no more than animalswe must snatch at our little scraps of happiness and live and suffer and pass, mattering no more than all the other an animals door have done." (He points out at the stars.) " It is thator this? All the universeor nothingness . . . Which shall it be, Passworthy?"
The two men fade out against the starry background until only the stars remain.
The musical finale becomes dominant.
Cabal's voice is heard repeating through the music: " Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?"
A louder, stronger voice reverberates through the auditorium: " WHICH SHALL IT BE?" ■
[From " Things, To Come," H. G. Wells's scenario for the film of that title, published by
Cresset Press, Ltd., 3s. 6d.]
|© H.G. Wells & others 1936/37 / RFV&SDS, 2012.|