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When I was a little girl, I wanted a Mystic Seer. I mean, really, really, really wanted one. I was a Twilight Zone fan from very early on, and at that time, “Nick of Time” was my favourite episode. Due largely in part, I’m sure, to that quirky, penny-stealing, devil-headed fortune-telling machine that ran roughshod over poor William Shatner in his first of two TZ appearances.

Twenty-plus years later and I am finally getting my Mystic Seer. Well, as soon as Entertainment Earth decides to release it. You don’t want to know how long ago I pre-ordered this thing.

Mystic Seer

Last year I wrote a post that I thought was important: “The Mystic Seer’s Words of Wisdom“. I scoured the internet for a list of all the fortunes the Seer gives to Don Carter in the episode, but it seemed that no one had taken the time to mark them all down. At least not that I could find. So I did it. You’ll find the Seer’s complete list of fortunes in that post, along with a recap of the episode, and a little insight into what makes “Nick of Time” so special.

On this day in 1960, “Nick of Time” first aired. It ranks number 2 in my list of Top 25 TZ episodes, and today, I’m celebrating its anniversary by sharing the episode’s script. Find below the “Nick of Time” shooting script, along with a ton of photos to really give you the full experience.

Starring William Shatner and Patricia Breslin as newlyweds Don and Pat Carter, “Nick of Time” was written by TZ regular Richard Matheson, and directed by Richard L. Bare. It was the seventh episode of the second season and it is a brilliant work of art. Classic Twilight Zone goodness — stellar script, a great cast, good moral, and a lesson learned. And a super-cool napkin dispenser that is perhaps one of the most iconic items of the entire series. What more can you ask for?

And while I wait not so patiently (I’m about due for my weekly “Where the hell is my MS?!” tweet) for my deluxe full-size replica Mystic Seer, I’ll just have to make due with my smaller, yet still totally creepy one. Just one question per penny, please.

Mini Mystic Seer

*********

THE TWILIGHT ZONE

“The Nick of Time”

Written by
Richard Matheson
 
*********
 
Nick of Time Title
 

ACT ONE

INT. MAIN STREET – RIDGEVIEW, OHIO – DAY

FADE IN and PAN DOWN from a sunny sky to a young married
couple, DON and PAT CARTER, who look a little bored. They
ride in a CONVERTIBLE that’s being towed through the
streets of a small town. Pat shakes her head in disbelief
that this happening. The tow truck pulls into a GARAGE and
parks. Don, glances at Pat, gets out of the driver’s seat,
stretches his stiff back, looks around at the little town
— which is Dullsville. He crosses to the MECHANIC who has
just emerged from the truck.
 
Nick of Time5
 
DON
          (to the mechanic)
How long is this gonna take?
 
MECHANIC
Like I told you, nobody stocks fuel pumps
around town. I’ll have to send in to Dayton
for it.
 
DON
How long will that take?
 
MECHANIC
          (unhooking the car)
Oh, three, four hours. Better figure on
four to play safe.
 
A disappointed Don leaves the mechanic and helps Pat out of
the car.
 
PAT
          (to Don)
Four hours? Crazy.
 
DON
Let’s get some lunch.
 
PAT
Lunch? We can homestead.
 
They start walking down the sidewalk hand in hand,
searching for a place to eat. Don and Pat are in their
twenties — casually dressed, a nice-looking couple.
 
Nick of Time6
 
PAT
          (playfully)
June, prune, honeymoon.
 
DON
          (smiling)
Quiet.
 
PAT
          (mocking him)
Quiet.
 
DON
Don’t think I should phone the office
again, huh?
 
PAT
You are going to lose that promotion if you
keep pestering them, lover.
 
DON
I’m gonna lose it anyway.
 
PAT
Ah, that’s a fine way to talk. And I
thought I married a man with confidence.
And who is the best man for the job?
 
DON
Me. But…
 
PAT
But?
 
DON
But Thompson has seniority.
 
PAT
Ah. Doesn’t mean a thing.
 
DON
Little miss sunshine, hm?
 
PAT
          (all smiles)
That’s me.
 
Nick of Time7
 
He gives her a kiss on the cheek. They approach a lamp
post. For a moment, it looks as if they will pass it on
opposite sides, but Don grabs Pat’s hand and pulls her
around to his side of the post, to avoid getting “bad
luck.”
 
DON
Bread and butter.
 
PAT
          (gently mocking him)
Yes, dear.
 
DON
Just trying to save your life.
 
They step off the curb and cross the street. Pat points out
a diner and the couple hurries to it.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. DINER – DAY

Moments later, Don and Pat enter a little DINER called the
“Busy Bee Cafe.” Shrimp: 85 cents. Bacon, eggs and hot
cakes: 70 cents. Don gestures that they could sit at the
diner’s counter.
 
DON
Shall we?
 
But Pat wants to put some money in the jukebox first.
 
PAT
Let’s have some music, shall we?
 
DON
Great.
 
They cross to the jukebox. Pat deposits her coin and makes
a selection while Don kisses the back of her neck. The
MUSIC begins, a romantic tune. Don takes Pat in his arms
and they dance. A slow dance. Cheek to cheek. They are very
much in love.
 
Nick of Time11
 
PAT
I thought we came in here to eat.
 
DON
Guess we did.
 
Don looks back at the counter, but sees that they have
danced over to an empty table.
 
DON
          (gestures to the table)
Shall we sit here?
 
As they sit side by side, Don’s attention is immediately
drawn to the table’s odd napkin holder, which doubles as a
penny fortune machine: insert a penny, ask a “yes-or-no”
question, pull a lever, and the machine dispenses a small
card with an answer to the question. Sort of a 1960 version
of the Magic 8-Ball. Every table in the diner has one of
these machines whose brand name is “Mystic Seer”. Atop each
machine is the bobbing, plastic head of a horned devil, its
face winking and grinning mischievously.
 
Nick of Time12
 
DON
Well, what have we got here? The mystic
seer.
 
PAT
The what? Let’s try it, shall we?
 
DON
Have you got a penny, honey?
 
PAT
I think so.
 
DON
What’ll we ask it?
 
PAT
I don’t know.
 
DON
I got it.
 
PAT
What?
 
Don deposits a penny.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Does anything exciting ever happen around
here?
 
He pulls the lever and a card pops out. Smiling at Pat, Don
reads the card in his HAND.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“It is quite possible.”
 
NARRATOR (v.o.)
The hand belongs to Mr. Don S. Carter, male
member of a honeymoon team en route across
the Ohio countryside to New York City.
 
FAST PAN to a table opposite, where the omniscient NARRATOR
sits, gently touching the devil’s head on another Mystic
Seer. He wears a dark business suit, carries a lit
cigarette, and speaks directly to the audience.
 
Nick of Time - Rod Serling
 
NARRATOR
In one moment, they will be subjected to a
gift most humans never receive in a
lifetime. For one penny, they will be able
to look into the future. The time is now,
the place is a little diner in Ridgeview,
Ohio, and what this young couple doesn’t
realize is that this town happens to lie on
the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

FADE OUT

INT. DINER – DAY

Nick of Time50

FADE IN on Don and Pat seated at the table, studying a
menu. The diner’s weird old COUNTERMAN sets a couple of
glasses of water in front of them.
 
COUNTERMAN
Howdy.
 
PAT
Hello.
 
DON
Hi.
 
COUNTERMAN
What’ll it be?
 
PAT
I think I’ll have a tomato and lettuce on
whole wheat and some iced coffee, please.
 
DON
I’ll have the same.
 
COUNTERMAN
I’ve got some very good chicken-fried steak
out there.
 
DON
No, thank you.
 
COUNTERMAN
No?
 
DON
No.
 
COUNTERMAN
          (nods, off the menu)
Uh, you finished with that?
 
DON
Yes.
 
The counterman takes the menu and departs. Off the
counterman, Don and Pat exchange glances. Don takes a sip
of his water and winces.
 
Nick of Time51
 
DON
          (off the water)
Ohh.
 
PAT
Good, hm?
 
DON
Great. He must’ve siphoned it out of a
swamp.
 
As Pat digs through her purse for some make-up, Don empties
his pockets, putting his key ring and some coins on the
table.
 
PAT
What are you doing?
 
DON
Getting some pennies.
 
PAT
          (off the seer)
What’re you gonna ask it now?
 
DON
What else?
 
As Pat applies her make-up, Don puts a finger under the
devil’s chin, turns its head toward him, causing it to bob.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Am I gonna be promoted, for Pete’s sake?
 
He deposits a penny, pulls the lever, takes the card, and
reads it.
 
DON
Hey.
          (to Pat)
Look.
 
PAT
What?
 
He shows her the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“It has been decided in your favor.”
 
PAT
Ah. You see? Your worries are over.
 
Nick of Time3
 
Don looks around and sees a pay phone.
 
DON
I think I’ll phone.
 
PAT
Honey!
 
DON
Well, I was gonna anyway. Wasn’t I?
 
They both grin. Don picks up his spare change, crosses to
the pay phone, inserts a coin, and dials the operator. Pat
continues to smile at Don’s behavior. She picks up his KEY
RING from the table and looks at the rabbit’s foot and four
leaf clover on it.
 
Nick of Time16
 
DON
          (into the phone)
Hello, operator? Give me Maine one-eight-nine-
nine-seven in St. Louis, please.
That’s right. How much? Seventy-five cents?
          (to Pat)
Honey, you got another quarter on you?
 
She nods, smiles, digs in her pocketbook for her change
purse and brings him the money.
 
PAT
          (teasing him)
Is this call necessary?
 
DON
          (into the phone)
Here you are, operator.
 
He deposits the necessary amount. A moment of tension
follows, and then:
 
DON
          (into the phone)
Hello? Connect me with Mr. Weldon’s
secretary, please.
          (to Pat)
Keep your fingers crossed.
 
PAT
          (points to her head)
I’m doing it up here.
 
DON
          (into the phone)
Hello? Hello, Pauline? It’s Don. Fine.
Fine. And you?
          (getting to the point)
What’s the secret word, Pauline? I did?
          (to Pat, as he hugs her)
I made it.
          (into the phone)
Thank you, Pauline. Yes, we’ll send you a
post card from New York. As soon as we
arrive. Bye-bye. Same to you. Goodbye.
          (hangs up, to Pat)
I made it.
 
PAT
Darling, I’m so proud of you.
 
Nick of Time19
 
They hug, return to the table, and sit.
 
DON
You’re now looking at the world’s youngest
office manager.
 
PAT
And, I’m happy to say, I told you so.
 
DON
          (off the seer)
So did he.
 
PAT
Yeah? Well, I told you first. I think we
ought to celebrate.
          (dips into her change purse)
Here’s a dime for the jukebox.
 
She hands Don the dime.
 
DON
Some success music.
 
Don rises and goes to the jukebox.
 
PAT
Or the “Triumphal March”.
 
DON
Don’t know whether I can find it here.
 
He selects a jaunty, generic version of “American Patrol”
and, doing a goofy little strut in time to the music,
rejoins Pat at the table.
 
Nick of Time52
 
PAT
Crazy.
 
The counterman arrives with their sandwiches.
 
DON
          (to the counterman)
Oh. Thank you.
 
COUNTERMAN
You ain’t gonna like this as much as you
would that chicken fried steak.
 
DON
          (affably)
We’ll bear up.
 
The counterman shrugs and departs. Don and Pat are about to
dig in. Pat hands Don a napkin.
 
PAT
Ah, office manager. I think it’s wonderful.
 
DON
          (off the seer)
Let’s ask him something else.
He really came through on that one.
 
PAT
          (off her sandwich)
Hmmm… why don’t you ask him why he didn’t
warn us the whole wheat bread is stale?
 
Printed on the front of the Mystic Seer are some suggested
questions which Don now studies.
 
Nick of Time53
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“Does he/she love me?”
          (kisses Pat’s cheek)
I know the answer to that one, hm?
          (reads aloud)
“Will I become rich?”
          (to Pat)
I know the answer to that one, too. I’m
gonna be the world’s first millionaire
accountant.
 
PAT
(corrects him)
Office manager.
 
DON
Right.
          (to the seer)
Is it really gonna be four hours before we
get out of here?
 
Don deposits a penny, pulls the lever and takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“You may never know.”
          (to Pat)
What does that mean?
 
PAT
Who knows?
 
DON
          (off the seer)
He does.
 
The DEVIL’S HEAD seems to be grinning right at Don.
 
Nick of Time25
 
PAT
Um hmm. But it’ll cost you another penny.
Don snaps his fingers, a gesture of unconcern.
 
DON
I’m an officer manager now.
He deposits a penny.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
What do you mean, we may never know? No,
that’s not a yes-or-no question. You mean,
something will keep us from knowing?
Something will happen to us?
 
Don pulls the lever and takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“If you move soon.”
          (laughs quietly, to Pat)
What does that mean?
 
PAT
Well, he’s a mystic. What do you expect?
 
Don starts to deposit another penny.
 
PAT
I can see I’m going to have to be the
frugal one in our family.
 
DON
          (to Pat)
Just one more.
          (to the seer)
You mean that we’re not supposed to move?
We’re supposed to stay here?
 
PAT
          (imitates a phone operator)
Just one question per penny, please.
 
But Don is taking this seriously. A little too seriously
for Pat who grows visibly uncomfortable over the next few
minutes. Don deposits a penny, pulls the lever and takes
the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“That makes a good deal of sense.”
          (to the seer)
How long sh– No, uh…
 
Don checks his watch. It’s almost 2:15.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Should we stay here until two-thirty?
 
Don deposits a penny, pulls the lever and takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“Try again.”
 
Don deposits a penny.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Should we stay in here until three o’clock?
 
Don pulls the lever and takes the card.
 
Nick of Time22
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“There’s no question about it.”
 
Pat doesn’t like where this is leading.
 
PAT
Don. Let’s take a look around the town, hm?
 
DON
Every answer seems to fit.
 
PAT
You’re joking, aren’t you? I mean —
 
Don starts to deposit another penny, but Pat stops him.
 
PAT
Don, no more.
 
But Don gives her a look and deposits the penny anyway.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
If we don’t stay in here until three
o’clock… something bad will happen to us?
 
Don pulls the lever, takes the card, and reads it to
himself.
 
PAT
Oh, Don, for heaven’s sakes.
 
DON
          (hands Pat the card)
Read it.
 
PAT
          (reads aloud)
“Do you dare risk finding out?”
          (to Don)
Don, let’s go.
 
But, clearly, Don does not want to leave. He quickly turns
to his lunch.
 
DON
I haven’t finished my sandwich yet.
          (starts to eat)
Don’t you want some ice cream?
 
An awkward silence follows. Don checks his watch. It’s
still a little before 2:15.
 
Nick of Time57

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. DINER – DAY

The diner’s CLOCK now reads four minutes to three. Pat buys
a pack of cigarettes from the diner’s vending machine. She
smiles weakly at the counterman who seems to be wondering
why she and Don are loitering. In fact, she seems to be
wondering the same thing herself. She crosses to Don at the
booth as he dawdles over a half-finished bowl of ice cream.
 
Nick of Time58
 
 
PAT
          (to Don)
Can we go now?
 
DON
Don’t you want something cold to drink?
 
PAT
Please, let’s go.
 
Don looks first at the clock and then at the devil’s head,
winking and grinning at him.
 
DON
          (to Pat)
All right.
 
Don kisses the rabbit’s foot on his key ring as he rises
and goes to the counter.
 
DON
          (to the counterman)
Say, can I have my check?
 
COUNTERMAN
You don’t need a check, I know what you
had. Two sandwiches, eighty cents. Iced
coffee, a dollar ten. Two ice creams, a
dollar sixty. With three cents tax.
 
DON
          (hands over some bills)
Here, keep the change.
 
COUNTERMAN
Thanks! And come on back now.
 
Don joins Pat at the door. They exit the diner.

CUT TO:

EXT. STREET – DAY

Moments later, Don and Pat cross the street, walking hand
in hand. Don wipes his brow.
 
Pat's Dress
 
PAT
Hot, hot, hot.
 
DON
Yeah.
 
PAT
Maybe it won’t take them four hours to fix
the car, think?
 
DON
Maybe.
 
PAT
Don, you didn’t really want to stay in
there, did you?
 
DON
          (unconvincingly)
No.
 
PAT
Honest?
 
DON
Well, why was it so specific?
 
PAT
Specific? Sweetie…
 
They both stop, having crossed the street.
 
Nick of Time27
 
DON
“If you move soon.” “That makes a good deal
of sense.” “Try again.” “There’s no
question about it.” “You may never know.”
“Do you dare risk finding out?”
 
PAT
Don, it’s just a napkin holder in a little
cafe in Ridgeview, Ohio.
 
DON
Oh, I know. I know… All right. What about
my promotion, then? Didn’t it tell me “It
has been decided in your favor”? Isn’t
that…? Oh, forget it. I suppose I’m just
being stupid.
 
Nick of Time29
 
PAT
No, you’re not. You’re just–
 
DON
Don’t say it. Superstitious. It’s
like you married an alcoholic, isn’t it?
Only instead of bottles in the chandelier,
it’s rabbit’s feet and four leaf clovers in
my pockets, in the car…
 
PAT
And.. and you’re all mine.
 
Pat gives him a kiss. He puts his arm around her and again
they stroll down the sidewalk hand in hand. For a moment,
everything seems back to normal. Until Don looks around
nervously.
 
PAT
What are you doing?
 
DON
What?
 
PAT
Well, you keep looking around as if–
 
DON
Do I?
 
PAT
You are worried. You’re worried about that
— Oh, Don, I-I wonder when you act like
this.
 
DON
I’m sorry. I’m not trying to upset you.
 
PAT
I know you’re not.
 
DON
Doesn’t change the facts, though.
 
PAT
What facts?
 
DON
Six straight answers.
 
PAT
Oh, Don, please.
 
DON
Oh, stop treating me like a retarded child
or something. I didn’t make those answers
up.
 
A large TRUCK is rolling slowly down the next street as Don
and Pat step off the curb to cross. Don pulls Pat into the
STREET figuring they can easily get across.
 
PAT
Oh, Don, wait.
 
DON
We can make it.
 
Nick of Time30
 
But a speeding car suddenly passes the truck and nearly
runs the couple down. Don pulls Pat to safety at the last
moment. They fall against a parked car. On the sidewalk,
townspeople MURMUR about the near accident. Shaken, a
relieved Don and Pat hug one another as Don looks at the
large CLOCK over the Main Street Jewelers: it’s exactly
three.
 
Nick of Time32

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. STREET – DAY

Don and Pat regroup on a nearby park BENCH, moments later.
 
DON
You all right? Quite a moment.
 
PAT
If you hadn’t pulled me out of the way of
that car — one squashed honeymoon.
 
DON
Come on.
 
They rise and Don leads her by the hand down the STREET.
 
PAT
Well, where’re we going now?
 
Pat freezes when she sees they are heading back to the
diner.
 
Nick of Time34
 
PAT
We’re not going back to that–
 
DON
Why not?
 
PAT
All right. I admit it was a… strange
coincidence.
 
DON
If it was a coincidence, well, what are you
worrying about us going back, then?
 
PAT
I’m not.
 
DON
So, stop worrying. Just the same, you will
admit that for a coincidence it was pretty
far-fetched?
 
PAT
Maybe.
 
The honeymoon couple walk toward the diner, no longer hand
in hand.

FADE OUT

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

INT. DINER – DAY

Don and Pat enter and head toward the table with the seer
on it — but stop dead in their tracks at the sight of
something before them. Pat seems quietly pleased but Don
looks pretty grim. Two little old ladies sit at the table
sipping sodas.
 
Nick of Time62
 
PAT
          (ironic, to Don)
Well! Someone’s sitting in front of our
Mystic Seer.
 
Don’s in no mood for irony. Pat turns and walks over to the
counter. She looks up to see that Don still stares at the
little old ladies.
 
PAT
Don?
 
A frustrated Don turns to her stiffly.
 
PAT
Why don’t you try this one? Or one of the
others? I’m sure that–
 
Don joins her at the counter but keeps his eyes on the
little old ladies. Don and Pat sit at the counter. Don
tries unsuccessfully to contain his frustration.
 
Nick of Time35
 
PAT
Don?
 
DON
          (still staring)
What?
 
PAT
Well, look at me.
 
Don looks at her.
 
PAT
Well, you-you really don’t think that…
that gizmo can foretell the future, do you?
 
DON
It foretold ours.
 
PAT
How? How did it?
 
The counterman arrives and brings them a couple of glasses
of water.
 
COUNTERMAN
Oh, back already. What’ll you have?
 
DON
          (to Pat)
Honey?
 
PAT
Oh, I’ll have some iced coffee, please.
 
COUNTERMAN
          (to Don)
How ’bout you?
 
DON
Same.
 
Nick of Time64
 
The counterman goes to fetch the drinks. Pat turns to Don.
 
PAT
All right. How?
 
DON
When that car almost hit us it was three
o’clock. Exactly when that machine said.
 
PAT
Don. You said three o’clock. Not the
machine. You decided to sit in here as long
as we did. You. Oh, this is ridiculous.
Can’t you see that you made up all the
details — and all that-that thing did was
give back generalities?
 
DON
What are you getting so upset about?
 
PAT
You. That you could even consider the
possibility that–
 
DON
Will you listen–?
 
Don and Pat quiet down as the counterman arrives with the
drinks.
 
DON
          (quietly, to Pat)
Will you listen–?
 
Don suddenly sees that the little old ladies are getting up
to leave.
 
DON
          (to the counterman)
Excuse me.
 
COUNTERMAN
Yes?
 
DON
Can you give me some pennies?
 
COUNTERMAN
Oh, sure. How many?
 
DON
Ten.
 
The counterman grabs a huge jar of pennies and counts them
out as the little old ladies leave the table.
 
Nick of Time65
 
DON
          (to Pat)
Come on.
 
Don rises from the counter and hurries to the now-vacated
table. One of the old ladies pays the counterman and they
exit the diner. Pat brings the drinks from the counter to
the table where Don sits, having already deposited a penny,
with his finger under the devil’s chin. Unlike
earlier, Pat sits on the opposite side of the table from
Don.
 
Nick of Time66
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Did you know about the car almost hitting
us?
 
Don pulls the lever and takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“What do you think?”
 
Don looks at Pat who looks away. Don deposits another
penny.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Will we reach New York all right now?
 
Don pulls the lever and takes the card. He reads it
silently, sighs, and smiles at Pat.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“Your chances are good.”
 
PAT
          (ironic)
Very precise.
 
DON
Honey, what do you expect? A slip should
come out and say “Hiya, Donsy and Patsy, so
how’s by you?”
 
The counterman arrives and clears the table of the little
old ladies’ soda glasses.
 
COUNTERMAN
Excuse me.
 
The counterman leaves with the dirty glasses.
 
DON
          (quietly, to Pat)
I never said these slips were made for us
personally. I only said–
 
PAT
I heard.
          (tries to reason with him)
Don. Don’t you realize that you could get
the same kind of answers from any one of
these machines in here? Try and see.
 
DON
The same kind, maybe, but not the same
answers.
 
Don deposits a penny.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Will it still take four hours before the
car is ready?
 
Don pulls the lever and takes the card. He reads it
silently, breaks into a broad grin, and shows it to Pat.
 
DON
Hey. “It has already been taken care of.”
 
PAT
          (icily)
Swell. Let’s go then.
 
A MAN’S VOICE
          (to Don)
Mister?
 
Don and Pat turn to see the mechanic approaching them. As
the mechanic speaks, Don looks first at Pat, who averts her
eyes, and then the devil’s head, which merely grins at him.
 
Nick of Time67
 
MECHANIC
          (to Don)
Your car’s ready. Got a lucky break. Found
a fuel pump right here in town. Last one
they had, too.
Figured you’d be walking around a couple
hours before you finally came to the garage
so I come lookin’ for ya.
 
DON
          (to the mechanic)
Thank you. We appreciate it. We’ll be right
over.
 
MECHANIC
Okey doke.
 
The mechanic departs.
 
DON
          (pointedly, to Pat)
Coincidence?
 
PAT
Yes.
 
DON
All right, then. You ask it some questions.
Or are you afraid to?
 
PAT
          (gets an idea)
All right.
 
Pat deposits a penny.
 
PAT
          (to the seer)
Will we reach Columbus by tomorrow?
 
DON
          (to Pat)
We’re not going through Colum–
 
But Pat knows this and figures she can stump the machine.
She pulls the lever. Don takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“If that’s what you really want.”
 
Only a little discouraged, Pat deposits a penny.
 
PAT
          (to the seer)
Will I ever be married?
 
Pat pulls the lever. Don takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“The answer to that is obvious.”
 
Pat deposits a penny. She’s a little fazed.
 
PAT
          (to the seer)
It’s not possible to foretell the future,
is it?
 
Don pulls the lever and takes the card.
 
DON
          (reads aloud)
“That’s up to you to find out.”
 
Pat deposits a penny. She’s almost hysterical now.
 
PAT
          (to the seer)
You’re just a stupid piece of junk, aren’t
you?
 
Pat pulls the lever. Don takes the card.
 
Nick of Time39
 
 
DON
          (almost gloating, reads
          aloud)
“It all depends upon your point of view.”
 
PAT
I don’t want to stay here anymore, Don.
 
Pat rises abruptly and starts to leave. Don grabs her arm.
 
Nick of Time40
 
DON
Even if it’s true?
 
PAT
Especially if it’s true.
 
DON
What are you talking about? I think you are
afraid of it.
 
PAT
Not of it.
 
DON
Of what then?
 
PAT
Don’t you know?
 
But Don doesn’t know. Pat turns and starts to walk away.
Don doesn’t follow. He stays at the table and fanatically
starts asking a series of questions, rapidly depositing
pennies, pulling the lever and reading the cards to
himself. Pat watches in horror.
 
DON
          (to the seer)
Are we always gonna live in St. Louis? Are
we going to live in the east? Are we going
to live in the west? Are we going to live
in this country?
 
PAT
Don. Don.
 
DON
What?
 
PAT
Let’s go.
 
DON
          (stares at the seer)
No.
 
PAT
          Are you just gonna stay here?
 
DON
I… don’t know.
 
PAT
          (crosses to him)
Oh, sweetheart. Listen to me. Please, if
you love me, just listen to me…
 
Don cradles her face in his hands.
 
Nick of Time43
 
DON
No, you listen to me. This machine is
predicting our future. Do you think I could
just walk away from it?
 
Don cradles the seer.
 
Nick of Time44
 
PAT
I’m not talking about that machine anymore.
I’m talking about you.
 
Don is stung by this.
 
PAT
Are you just going to sit here and let
that… that… that thing run your life?
 
Pat stalks away and turns her back on Don.
 
DON
Run my life?
 
Don stares at the seer for a long moment, then rises and
crosses to Pat.
 
DON
Run my life?
 
PAT
          (turns to face him)
Isn’t that exactly what you’re letting it
do? Don, it made you call the office
before. It made you stay here instead of
leave. It made you afraid to walk down the
street. And now it’s telling you where
you’re going to live. Why, it’s as if every
superstitious feeling you ever had is
wrapped up in that one machine. It doesn’t
matter whether it can foretell the future.
What matters is whether you believe more in
luck and in fortune than you do in
yourself. Well, you can decide your own
life.
          (reaches out to him)
You have a mind, a wonderful mind. Don’t
destroy it trying to justify that cheap
penny fortune machine to yourself.
 
DON
Pat…
 
PAT
          (seems dazed)
We can have a wonderful life together, if
we make it wonderful… ourselves. I…
 
Pat buries her face in Don’s chest. He embraces her.
 
Nick of Time46
 
DON
Pat…
 
PAT
          (sobs)
I don’t want to know what’s going to
happen. I want us to make it happen.
 
DON
Don’t cry, darling. Don’t cry.
 
The counterman approaches, concerned.
 
COUNTERMAN
          (to Don)
Is there something wrong?
 
DON
          (to the counterman)
No. No, no, it’s all right.
 
The counterman withdraws.
 
DON
          (to Pat)
Don’t cry. We’ll go. We’ll go. You’re
right, I’m a jerk.
 
PAT
No, you’re not. You’re wonderful.
 
DON
Yes, yes, I am. I’m the world’s biggest
jerk. Come on. Let’s go get our car.
          (more to the seer than to
          Pat)
Yes, that’s right. Let’s go get our car,
we’ll drive out of this town and go where
we want to go… anytime we please.
 
PAT
Oh, Don, I love you.
 
DON
I love you, too, baby.
 
Don kisses her on the mouth and leads her toward the door,
stopping only to pay off the counterman.
 
Nick of Time68
 
DON
          (to the counterman)
Keep the change.
 
COUNTERMAN
          (to Don)
Thanks! Come on back now.
 
Don and Pat exit. The door hasn’t even shut behind them
when another couple, older and rather desperate looking,
enter the diner, and move directly to the table where Don
and Pat have spent much of the afternoon. The man places a
handful of pennies on the table as they sit. An awkward
pause follows.
 
Nick of Time47
 
DESPERATE WOMAN
          (resignedly, to the man)
Go ahead.
 
The man deposits a penny in the Mystic Seer.
 
DESPERATE MAN
          (to the seer)
Can we ask some more questions now?
 
The man pulls the lever and takes the card. He and the
woman silently read it. She sighs in relief. He deposits a
penny.
 
DESPERATE MAN
          (to the seer)
Do you think we might leave Ridgeview
today?
 
The man pulls the lever and takes the card. He and the
woman silently read it. She sighs again, this time in
despair. He deposits a penny.
 
DESPERATE MAN
          (to the seer)
Is there any way out? Any way at all?
 
Under the narration, the man pulls the lever and takes the
card. The woman can’t bear to look. He reads the card
silently and puts his hand to his mouth. He deposits a
penny, asks a question and pulls the lever.
 
Nick of Time48
 
NARRATOR (v.o.)
Counterbalance in the little town of
Ridgeview, Ohio. Two people permanently
enslaved by the tyranny of fear and
superstition, facing the future with a kind
of helpless dread…

CUT TO:

EXT. MAIN STREET – DAY

Don and Pat in their CONVERTIBLE as they leave town via
Main Street.
 
Nick of Time49
 
NARRATOR (v.o.)
Two others facing the future with
confidence, having escaped one of the
darker places of the Twilight Zone.
Don and Pat turn a corner and disappear from view. The Main
Street clock reads a little after 3:20.
 
PAN UP to the sunny sky, DISSOLVE TO a starry night sky and
FADE OUT.
 

The End

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