FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Twilight (of the Idols) Zone

by ADAM ENGEL

FADE IN.

BLACK AND WHITE

EXTERIOR: Ground Zero, NYC. CLOSE ON:

The late Rod Serling, looking none too shabby, calm, cool, omniscient, like it’s 1962, and he’s still smoking!

SERLING

“Submitted for your approval: a man barely alive, a man without thoughts or dreams, a man without history or conscience, a man who works long hours for compensation of decreasing value. You are about to meet a certain Mr. Strom Bone, a typical American on a most atypical day, here, in the Twilight (of the Idols) Zone…”

CUT TO:

INTERIOR. A one-bedroom Apartment in NYC. STROM BONE, tall, lean, awkward. wearing a dark suit. Sweating, panicked, pale and smoking, he sips a cup of coffee hurriedly, flips through the NEW YORK TIMES and fondles THE MAID.

BONE

It was only days ago, though it seems like centuries. Morning was regular enough. Woke up, read in the New York Times about how Saddam was on the war path again, kissed the maid good-bye -agency perk– and went off to work my usual long hours for devaluted comisery or whatever the hell the guy in the black suit said.

CUT TO:

EXT. BUSY STREET. A STRANGER whips out an automatic pistol and mows down several other STRANGERS.

BONE (VOICE OVER)

I am, or was, a fact checker for the Homeland Security/TIPS Handbook and Weekly Guide. Yeah, I know. I’ve heard all the jokes before, so don’t knock yourself out (“Finding a fact at Homeland Security is like…” yadda yadda badda boom). But you’d be surprised. There are serious facts about securing The Homeland that most folks don’t know. Like this tip in the upcoming issue: “If you see a stranger you don’t know pull out a heretofore concealed handgun and ‘light up’ several other strangers whom you do not know, it’s probably a SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY and should be reported to the TIPS hotline IMMEDIATELY…” Now, if it had been a known and trusted companion who smoked the strangers, or if the strangers weren’t strangers, but cherished friends, the incident would be a bummer, definitely, maybe even a crime, depending on the shooter’s objective, motivation, such and such and so on, but it would not fall under the category of SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY, warranting a call to the Hotline and perhaps the services of Homeland Security. People should know these things.

CUT TO:

INT. A CLUTTERED OFFICE.

BONE (VO)

Anyway, I was at the office when the Aliens from Outer Space, The Kahunas, they called themselves, crashed a big assembly meeting at the UN and broadcast themselves on every TV and Computer screen on the whole damn planet.

CUT TO:

INT. THE UN ASSEMBLY. The KAHUNAS are BEARDED and HUGE, real PAUL BUNYAN types in LUMBERJACK attire; the women wear loose cotton PEASANT FROCKS and THICK-SOLED SANDALS and are somewhat hirsute above the ankles.

BONE (VO)

Fidelio, the guy I share my office with speaks like six different languages, everything but English, which is probably why they put us together, so we couldn’t share info, poured over his paperwork and I mine when the Kahunas made themselves known on the overhead monitors that poured news, sitcoms and other suspicious activities into our office 24/7. Fidelio was tuned to some Spanish or Korean Station, I couldn’t tell, while my monitor gushed regular Homeland TV.

CUT TO: INT. Bone’s Office.

BONE (VO)

The Alien on Fidelio’s screen spoke directly to my head, in English, without moving his lips. Transmitted his thoughts telepathically, and I imagine Fidelio ‘heard’ them in French or Spanish or Swahili or whatever he was tuned into at the time.

FIDELIO watches the screen and nods in understanding.

BONE (VO)

These Kahunas had mojo alright. They stimulated our endorphins and god know what other illicit chemicals in our brains, took the war on drugs straight to the source. Dirty fighting, but we fell for it. We had no choice. Every time we tried to resist they made us feel…happy. Sneaky bastards.

CLOSE ON:

A THICK BOOK with strange letters on the cover.

BONE (VO)

They left several copies of a book at the UN but it was in some foreign Alien cockamamie language so who the hell could read it? Finally in a joint effort by some of NATO’s top code crackers they puzzled out the large-print title, “How to Save Man,” which seemed innocuous enough, too innocuous. I for one was suspicious. The crack code-crackers moved on to the sub-title.

PULL BACK reveals SIX CRACK CODE CRACKERS arguing over the book.

BONE (VO)

The Kahunas promised to show us their world of clean plenty and peace and all that suspiciously commie-sounding crap, but you had to sign up for a six-month “training course,” to qualify for the trip.

EXT. MONTAGE of DESPERATE MASSES rushing to board grade B movie-type FLYING SAUCERS.

BONE

Hell, you never saw such a run on all those space ships they had parked like chartered buses in open fields all over the world. They’d zip away and come back in a few days for more “students.” I wondered where the hell their planet was anyway or what kind of technology they were using to zip back and forth like that. When one of the newsmen asked the Big Kahuna how they got around so fast, he said, or rather, telepathed, “We harness the power of the stars.” “Nuclear?” asked the talking Head. “Light,” said the Big Kahuna.

EXT. BIG KAHUNA giving interview to reporters.

BONE (VO)

After several thousand people worldwide went off and more were lining up to take the trip to Kahuna U. I got The Call from Headquarters. “Why me?” I asked. I had an eye for detail, they claimed. And anyway, I wasn’t particularly important — even the goddamn alien Kahunas could see that – so I would arouse less suspicion than say, Tom Ridge. I asked, “When?” Headquarters said, “Yesterday.”

INT. BONE riding the C LOCAL in his suit, and carrying his briefcase.

BONE (VO)

So I took the C Train to Yankee Stadium, where the chartered flights to Kahuna were taking off hourly (go figure). Man, you should have seen all the people in the stands waiting their turn. Thermoses, knapsacks, sleeping bags…like a friggin’ Grateful Dead Concert.

EXT. YANKEE Stadium. The field is crowded with people and FLYING SAUCERS. The stands are packed to capacity.

BONE (VO)

Of course I got to the head of the line as a VIP “student,” and was formally greeted by the Kahuna’s Manhattan Liaison.

EXT. SECOND BASE. A KAHUNA leads BONE ahead of a long line of people and up the steps of a SAUCER.

BONE (VO)

I was just about on board when one of those NATO code crackers I recognized from TV came running toward the ship huffing and puffing.

EXT. THE INFIELD. A CODE CRACKER runs frantically toward the SHIP parked on second base.

CODE CRACKER

Don’t go! Get off the Ship! We deciphered the subtitle. It’s… it’s…”An Environmental Cookbook!”

The CODE CRACKER watches the automatic doors of the FLYING SAUCER close.

CUT TO: INT. FLYING SAUCER. CLOSE ON BONE, sweating, smoking, as he nervously completes his story.

BONE

But the doors had already begun to close; we were trapped. Sure enough, the Kahunas on the ship explained to me that the “course” I was to take was based on the text of “How to Save Man: An Environmental Cookbook!”- all about organic farming and diversified crops and renewable energy sources and…good god…immediate and absolute renunciation of fossil fuels…I always thought humans were about the worst mistake of Creation but we had nothing on these Kahunas…

PULL BACK REVEALS

BONE on a bench sandwiched between GEORGE W. BUSH and SADDAM HUSSEIN. All three men are GLUM. Bone snubs out his cigarette and reaches for another. Saddam GRABS Bone’s hand.

SADDAM

Haven’t we had enough, my friend? I believe we have had enough smoke today.

DUBYA

Yeah. What’re you tryin’ to do, kill us all?

ENTER SERLING smoking coolly, his back to the three men.

SADDAM (Shaking his fist)

Put out the damn cigarette or I will kill you!

DUBYA (Squaring his Chin)

I must concurrent. Unless you stop igniting those Weapons of Mass Destruction, dour consequences will ensue!

BONE (nervous, to SERLING)

Better listen to ’em, Big Guy. These freaks are facing some monster petroleum withdrawl. They’re liable to do anything.

SADDAM

Yes. We are going on the “natch.”

DUBYA

Cold Turkey!

BONE

The horror. The horror.

SERLING flicks his butt insouciantly, and grins.

SERLING

Strom Bone, a man who stepped off life’s treadmill to climb the stairway to Kahuna, is about to join two most unlikely scholars in the age-old study of “How to Save Man.” Here, in that most prestigious of Universities, “The Twilight (of the Idols) Zone.”

MUSIC. FADE OUT.

ADAM ENGEL lives in NYC and communicates often with the late Rod Serling, with whom he collaborated on this brief teleplay. He (and Serling) welcome comments at asengel@attglobal.net.

 

Adam Engel is editor of bluddlefilth.org. Submit your soul to bluddlefilth@yahoo.com. Human units, both foreign and domestic, are encouraged to send text, video, graphic, and audio art(ifacts), so long as they’re bluddlefilthy and from The Depths.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Jesse Jackson
Jeff Sessions is Rolling Back Basic Rights
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Rivera Sun
Blind Slogans and Shallow Greatness
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail