Nov 4, 2021
Ask Mrs. Freda Dunny where her home town is. Go on - we dare you.
Adapted by Julie Hoverson from a short story by J. Anthony Ferlaine (published in Fantastic Universe, November 1956) .
Music: Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)
Editing and Sound: Neil Gustin of Twilight Audio Theatre
Cover Design: Brett Coulstock
"What kind of a place is it?
Why it's a TV Studio in 1956 - can't you tell?"
One out of ten
This was a quick little adaptation from a story I read for Atomic Julie's Galactic Bedtime Stories. It didn't take much to adapt, just a few tweaks, and I think I had to add in the actual questions, since that was just a "dot dot dot" in the story. Otherwise, this one basically wrote itself.
Atomic Julie, though, was my idea for some filler that has become my secondary series - I read old scifi stories that show up on Project Gutenberg - at gutenberg.org - that public domain treasure house. I started out adding music to the stories, but people expressed a preference for just the reading, so I adapted. Hey one less thing to do, right?
Few people realize that I do all Atomic Julie's as cold reads, not even looking at anything but the word count and first page beforehand, as a challenge to myself. It's also good practice.
The biggest advantage to Atomic Julie is finding stories to adapt - or stories that inspire new ideas in my head. And then I figured, if I'm going to be reading them anyway, why not read them aloud and then share them with everyone else?
ONE OUT OF TEN
Adapted from a short story by J. Anthony Ferlaine
from _Fantastic Universe_ November 1956.
Sound and Mastering by Neil Gustin
OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's a television studio, in 1956 can't you tell?
SOUND COMMERCIAL RUNS IN THE BACKGROUND
DON PHILLIPS Parlor Quiz!
JIM What's on the menu tonight, Gertie?
GERTIE We have five possibles. Here.
SOUND INDEX CARDS FLIPPED THROUGH
GERTIE Don't want to run short again.
JIM Noooo. Anything really juicy?
GERTIE Let's see - [listing off people] kooky name; too many kids; unusual job - she's a taxidermist; oh, here's one - interesting relative, no details; and this top one you're really gonna want to see.
SOUND SNATCH CARD
JIM "Ask her where she's from"?
JIM I'm no good at guessing. Alaska?
GERTIE Trust me.
JIM Holy crow, that's me. [mock teasing] Am I beautiful?
GERTIE Turn. Yup. Twenty-four karat gold.
JIM That's me!
SOUND DOOR OPENS, NOISE LOUDER. FOOTSTEPS UNDER.
DON PHILIPS [on P.A.] ... And now, on with the show! And here, ready to test your wits, is your quizzing quiz master, Smiling Jim Parsons.
SOUND MUCH APPLAUSE, THEN LOWERS
JIM [ON] Good afternoon! Here we go again with another half hour of fun and prizes on television's newest, most exciting, game, 'Parlor Quiz.' In a moment I'll introduce you to our first contestant. But first here is a special message to all you mothers ...
SOUND AD PLAYS
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JIM Now which one is--
JIM [spotting her] Ah. No mukluks. Not even a crazy hat or wooden shoes. [to her] Mrs. Freda Dunny?
FREDA Oh, yes.
JIM You're first.
FREDA [strangely certain] I know.
SOUND AD ENDS
JIM [disconcerted] Oh. [up, to camera] Well, now, we're all set to go ... and our first contestant today is this charming little lady right here beside me, Mrs. Freda Dunny.
JIM How are you, Mrs. Dunny?
FREDA Fine! Just fine.
JIM All set to answer a lot of questions and win a lot of prizes?
FREDA Oh, I'll win all right.
JIM You sound pretty sure of yourself. [chuckles] Where are you from, Mrs. Dunny?
JIM [a moment, then] Mars! [chuckles] Mars, Montana? Mars, Peru?
FREDA [earnest] No, Mars! Up there. The planet Mars. The fourth planet out from the sun.
SOUND UNCERTAIN LAUGHTER
JIM Well, well... well [rallying] all the way from Mars, eh? And how long have you been on Earth, Mrs. Dunny?
FREDA Oh, about thirty or forty years. I've been here nearly all my life. Came here when I was a wee slip of a girl. Not a weekend getaway, then? JIM You're practically an Earthwoman by now, then, wouldn’t you say?
SOUND LOTS OF LAUGHS
JIM Do you plan on going back someday or have you made up your mind to stay here on Earth for the rest of your days?
FREDA Oh, I'm just here for the invasion. When that's over I'll probably go back home again.
JIM [blank] The... invasion?
SOUND AUDIENCE MURMURS
FREDA Yes, the invasion of Earth. As soon as enough of us are here we'll get started.
JIM You mean there are others here, too?
FREDA Oh, yes, there are several million of us here in the United States already--and more are on the way.
JIM [faltering a bit, but trying to stay "on"] There are only about a hundred and seventy million people in the United States, Mrs. Dunny. If there are seven million Martians among us, one out of every hundred would have to be a Martian.
FREDA Oh, one out of every ten. That's what the boss said just the other day. 'We're getting pretty close to the number we need to take over Earth.' [laughs]
SOUND MORE NERVOUS MURMURS, TITTERS
JIM What do you need? One to one? One Martian for every Earthman?
FREDA Oh, no. One Martian is worth ten Earthmen. The only reason we're waiting is we don't want any trouble.
JIM You don't look any different from us Earth people, Mrs. Dunny. How does one tell the difference between a Martian and an Earthman when one sees one?
FREDA Oh, we don't look any different. Some of the kids don't even know they're Martians. Most mothers don't tell their children until they're grown-up. And there are other children who are never told because they just don't develop their full powers.
FREDA Oh, telepathy, thought control--that sort of thing.
JIM [back to humor - this is too silly] You mean that Martians can read people's thoughts?
FREDA Sure! It's no trouble at all. It's very easy really, once you get the hang of it.
JIM [joking] Can you read my mind?
FREDA Sure! That's why I said that I'd know the answers. I'll be able to read them in your mind when you look at that sheet of paper.
JIM Now, that's hardly sporting, is it, Mrs. Dunny? Everybody else has to do it the hard way and here you are reading it from my mind?
FREDA [complacent] All's fair in love and war.
JIM Tell me, Mrs. Dunny. Why are you telling me about all this? Isn't it supposed to be a secret?
FREDA Why not? Nobody believes me anyhow. Besides, I have my reasons.
JIM [grave] Oh, I believe you, Mrs. Dunny. But we need to take a quick break and consult the rules - mind-reading might be fair in love and war, but this is television!
SOUND AD COMES ON
JIM I'll be right back, Mrs. Dunny.
FREDA I know.
JIM [really disconcerted] Right.
SOUND DASHES OFF
GERTIE I've been on the phone with the big brass. They don't take it very seriously, but they did say I should pull out packet 13 for her.
JIM [baffled] Packet 13?
GERTIE You know the one sealed and certified, in case of cheats like that fellow a few years back? No one knows a single question in here until we break the seal.
JIM But what if she--?
GERTIE I asked! They said if she wins - well, gosh she wins.
JIM Even if she manages to ace the whole ten?
GERTIE Yup. They figure the publicity is worth it. And you're on!
SOUND JIM DASHES AGAIN
DON PHILLIPS It looks like we have a decision!
JIM Well, Mrs. Dunny, we scoured the rulebook, and couldn't find a darn thing to stop you. Guess there's just no precedent for mind-reading.
FREDA Of course.
JIM And now, let's see how you do on the questions. Are you ready?
SOUND RIP OF ENVELOPE, CARDS PULLED OUT
FREDA Oh, yes!
SOUND AUDIENCE MURMURS
JIM I should point out, even I haven't seen these questions and answers before this very moment, so there's no possibility of collusion.
JIM Name the one and only mammal that has the ability to fly.
FREDA A bat.
JIM Right! Did you read that from my mind?
FREDA Oh, yes, you're coming over very clear!
FADING INTO MONTAGE SCENE - TICK TOCK MUSIC, FADE OUT BETWEEN EACH PAIR
JIM A princess is any daughter of a sovereign. What is a princess royal?
FREDA The eldest daughter of a sovereign.
JIM Is a Kodiak a kind of simple box camera; a type of double-bowed boat; or a type of Alaskan bear?
FREDA A bear.
JIM And finally, who directed the 1925 silent film "The Crowd?"
FREDA King Vidor.
JIM [shaken] Very good. That was a tough one. Don Phillips, tell the lady what she's won!
DON PHILLIPS [in the background] You get a lovely modern cyber-electric garbage disposal and a lovely gas range, provided by Savannah Ranges of Burbank.
JIM Gertie? What just happened?
GERTIE I dunno! The impossible?
SOUND FREDA APPROACHES
FREDA Mr. Parsons? Perhaps you could help me carry my prizes to the car. After all this is finished.
JIM [almost robotic] Of course.
FREDA You're such a nice fellow.
GERTIE You're what? [incredulous] Helping? Jim?
JIM [snapping back, searching for an excuse] I ... I just have to find out who put her up to this.
MUSIC SURGES, THEN RECEDES
DON PHILLIPS join us tomorrow for another round of Parlor Quiz!
GERTIE Jim! Morty Howard of Savannah Ranges has been calling for the last twenty minutes, to confirm the win, and wants an assurance that he won't have to shell out another one for at least three months.
SOUND HE TROTS OFF
GERTIE [calling after him] Jim?
SOUND OUTSIDE DOOR OPENS. DISTANT TRAFFIC
JIM [calling] Mrs. Dunny?
FREDA [satisfied chuckle]
JIM I want to talk to you!
FREDA When do I get the gas stove?
JIM uh... It should be delivered in a few days. Did you leave us your address?
FREDA Oh, yes. My Philadelphia address, that is. I don't even remember my address at home any more.
JIM Come, now, Mrs. Dunny. You don't have to keep up that Mars business now that we're off the air.
FREDA It's the truth.
FREDA [cutting him off] And I didn't come here just by accident.
FREDA I came here to see you.
SOUND PURSE OPENED, RUMMAGING, PAPER NOISE
FREDA Ah, there it is. [up] Yes, I came to see you. And you didn't follow me out here because you wanted to. I commanded you to come.
JIM [spluttering but worried] Commanded me to come! What for?
FREDA To prove something to you. Do you see this piece of paper?
SOUND PAPER SHAKEN
JIM It's blank.
FREDA Well, that side is. This side has my address.
FREDA I am reading the address. Concentrate on what I'm reading.
JIM [unable to stop] Two fifty-one South Eighth Street!
FREDA You see, it's very easy - once you get the hang of it.
JIM Oh. [realizing] Oh! [beat, then kind of pleased] Let me see you home, Mrs. Dunny. I guess we have a lot to talk about.
OLIVIA Now that you know how to find us, don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already...