Stewart Stanyard (Tzoneman) - TZA Curator -

Here's my true zone experience I had years ago.

'The Night I Became a Resident of The Twilight Zone"

I was 20 at the time, working at a Pizza Hut, paying for general education classes at a community college - the year was 1982.  I had been taking an astronomy class and had gone on numerous 'star-gazing parties' with the class.  This one time, the drive was over 2 hours away and I didn't get off work until 11:00pm.  The drive was exciting because I was by myself driving to some area very much south of where I was living at the time, in the backwoods, in the remoteness of a starry night. The freeway eventually became a two-lane road, which then became a pebbled 1-lane road and then a dirt road overlooking many dangerous curves up in the hills.  I was driving my mother's car, a 1978 Buick Skylark, green.  It always had problems with the electric system (one time a friend and I drove it to Yosemite and it conked out on us in the middle of nowhere, making that trip a real pain). I hoped that the car would get me through the night without incident; little did I know, I was about to enter The Twilight Zone.

After a few hours of driving, I finally arrived.  The shouts and chatter of people filled the air, telling me to, 'Turn your frickin' lights off, man!"  I cut the lights and was able to pull over into a open area where I saw other cars.  I got out of the car and sighed with relief, "I made it."  The moonless night was absolutely incredible and not a cloud in sight.  Many telescopes were set up and people huddled over them with curiosity flowing through their veins.  I remember seeing Saturn and it's surrounding ring, a few nebulas and other incredible sights.  The Milky Way was pouring out into view, almost pushing you down into your tiny existence on the planet Earth, and the thought of distant alien societies filled my mind. After about three hours of viewing the universe, I began to wonder what I would do afterwards; I had forgotten to bring a tent or sleeping bag like everyone else, and because I was by myself, I figured I would just head back soon; it was around 4:30 in the morning and I was getting tired.  I lay back in the car for a bit but decided to start up the car and began the drive back home.

I drove back down the treacherous dirt road full of huge potholes, arrived at the pebbled road and then to the regular road, which was still a one-lane heavy-cornered drive high up in the hills.  I had the window down, the breeze of the night permeated the car and the am radio was sounding out some lame pop channel, but I bore with it.

Suddenly, all at once, the power to the car started cutting out, the radio was fading, the lights were dimming and the loud buzzing of the seat-belt warning sound blared out, scaring me half out of my wits. Then, the car died, lights went out completely, everything died and the car slowed to a stop right in the middle of the road.

I tried to start the car but absolutely no sound came from it, it was dead, and the only life that filled the night was the billion crickets calling out to mates.  I sat there and was wide-awake instantly; every nerve tense, pulse throbbing, the pounding of my heartbeat accompanied the cricket love songs. I tried the car several more times, still nothing.  Then after a break of a few minutes, while looking down at the floor and praying for electricity, the car started.  The car started!  At the same time, the lights came on, the radio was loud and the buzzing started again.  It shocked me a bit, and with a quick upward jolt of my head, suddenly, there before me, surrounding the front of the car, were multiple sets of eyes shining back at me, completely still but seemingly foreboding!  I screamed, "ARRRGGHHH!!!! ALIENS!!!Ē

Just then, my eyes adjusted to the brightness of the headlights and I could now see that the eyes belonged to an entire family of deer!  They stood there totally frozen. At this point I was pretty scared!  Damn deer appearing out of nowhere in a burst of drama, I thought they were aliens, seriously. I stuck my head out of the door, yelled at the frightened things and hit the horn several times to scare them away. The deer finally woke from their stupor and instantly scurried away out of sight. I said aloud, "I have to get out of here!"  I quickly started the car and began to drive like a madman, continuing down the one-lane curvy road until I passed through its treacherousness and was now on the straighter calmer part of the road.

With my pulse returning to normal and a decent song playing on the radio, I was starting to feel much better now, having survived the deer-like aliens that had almost given me a heart attack.  As I drove along, I passed through areas where the side of the hills had lots of old dead oak tress with long braches that reached outward toward the road.  With my arm resting on the open driver's door window, suddenly and without warning, one of these branches, which I instantly thought was a flying bat, quickly scratched itís way up my arm toward my face, tearing at my skin and freaking me out once again! "AARRGGGHHH!!!  HELP!!!!!  DAMN BAT!!!!  ARGGGHHH!!  Oh, itís only a branch!  Damn! Iíve got to get the hell out of this place!"

As can be expected, I floored the accelerator and finished the last stretches of the drive down these hills until the car was moving on safe level ground!  Safety was in sight, a small shack, a house, a farm and civilization at last.  I turned off the road to where I thought the next road I needed was, the one that I presumed lead back to the freeway.  I drove down a mile or so but didnít seem to find the freeway entrance anywhere.  I guess in all of the confusion and fear, I had taken any turn, subconsciously wanting to get off that bizarre road from before.  I went a bit farther and as I was about to turn around a saw some light coming from behind a street lined with many buildings.

I thought a gas station might prove wise to visit, hope one would be open now at some time after 5:00am, and turned down the brightly lit street.  While driving down it I noticed many old-fashioned lampposts every half block, painted white, lighting the street brilliantly. As I looked out toward the surrounding stores and shops, I noticed they were all painted white as well, all of them, and were the type of storefronts that you see in the spaghetti westerns.  I thought, "What the hell is this?  Man, where the heck am I?  What kind of street is this?"  I continued driving through this surreal situation, bewildered as to why this street was so white and bright.  Damn peculiar.

The blocks on this street were long ones, some of the buildings were like warehouses with a few small windows spaced along the white solid walls.  I also saw some small houses but most of them looked like block-length walls.  I decided that now I needed to turn around and get back to where I made the first wrong turn.  The last block was coming up and I was preparing to turn around.  I thought about how quiet and perfect this 'out-of-time' street was, with absolutely no one in sight.

I finished turning around and started to drive back up the street.  After reaching the second block there, remembering that just a second ago the walled-block was empty, an elderly man in a long-coat and cane appeared walking down the left side of the street, in the same direction, with his back towards me and face down!  I thought, "Where did he come from? He wasn't there a second ago, the street was empty!  He just appeared right in the middle of the block, walking down the sidewalk.  There's no door there next to him!  How did he just appear in the middle of an empty block?"  I was close to passing him and with the driverís side window down, I slowed the car down a bit as I approached.  At about ten feet from behind him, then closer, almost there, then just as I'm even with him, I look out the window to find him suddenly turning toward me at that same exact moment I turned to look at him.  With a sudden cock of his head he looked directly at me and smiled through missing teeth in a demented awful grin!  I actually screamed having reached the breaking point, stomped on the accelerator and burned rubber back down the wickedness of the climax of a truly bizarre experience. 

Eventually, I reached the correct turn for the freeway entrance and hurried myself back to the outskirts of civilization. 

And now, as I write this, chills crawl up my spine as I see that manís demented grin in my mindís eye, think of the bat-like branch scurrying up my arm, and the family of presumed aliens that were only frightened deer. During my lifetime, I have always loved the Twilight Zone but I never thought I would actually become a resident of its dimension.  Yet, that night, this resident's number was added to the signpost.

 

Here was my story idea for an X-Files episode paying homage to Twilight Zone.

"Is this a Good Life?" - By Stewart Stanyard         © 1999 Stewart Stanyard

Starring Bill Mumy as Anthony Fremont, Seth Mumy as Billy Fremont, Cloris Leachman as Grandmother Fremont, Gillian Anderson as Scully and David Duchovney as Mulder, and a guest appearence by Martin Milner as Mr. Fremont

HISTORY - Anthony continued to rule over Peaksville for years (a town contained in his own reality), but when he reached the age of 30, he noticed the other people in his town were making new families, but not him. He decided to try and start his own family, but none of the town's women would truly want to be with him. So he made a wife, a quiet woman, knowing not to act as a real wife should, and together, they had a child, Billy.  Billy showed little power while he was an infant, but as he aged he started getting more 'mind-power' abilities; the ability for simple things, like moving toys around.  As Billy grew a bit older, he was able to create small creatures and began to read the thoughts of the town's people, until one day (the present), when he was 10 years old his powers had become so strong, that he began to parallel the power of his father, Anthony.   

Anthony, now a 45 year old adult, has come to understand that the adults of his childhood were right, that he shouldn't have wished things and people away, including his own father, who was wished into a fiery cornfield the one day he finally stood up to Anthony. The only original Fremont family member to survive was Anthony's mother, who is now a very old woman, and grandmother to young Billy. Anthony realizes that Billy could possibly overthrow his father's ability to contain the town in it's own reality; opening his powers upon the unsuspecting world, and thusly doing who knows what...

PRESENT DAY - In the present, Billy begins to control the town and has stopped respecting his father's wishes.  Anthony realizes that Billy is stronger than him, he tries to have a father-son talk with Billy, but it doesn't work - Billy warns him not to interfere. Billy begins to bring his power to outer areas of Peaksville, looking for new people to control.

 (Story B - the start of the episode)

Mulder and Scully are driving in the backwoods of Ohio, looking for some location where they are to meet a man who supposedly has captured a Bigfoot.  They are totally lost and Mulder refuses to head back to the nearest town (some 80 miles back).  They try to use their cel-phones but there's no signal.  He turns off onto yet another dirt road where they then happen to come across this hidden unmarked town (Peaksville).  Once entering town, people look at Mulder and Scully with surprise and go about their business, ignoring Scully and Mulder's questions as they drive through town.  Just then, they see Billy standing at a street corner staring at them. Mulder pulls over to ask the kid for directions.  Anthony appears and joins the conversation. Scully thinks the kid is cute. Since it's getting dark, Billy suggests to his dad that they stay the night with them, and head out for their destination in the morning. They agree and end up at the Fremont's house.  They meet Billy's mother, who doesn't speak very much and Grandma Fremont. Before they decide to crash for the night, Billy's affections for Scully shows when he gives her a gift, a shiny new bracelet, exactly like the one her Grandmother gave her when she was a kid; the bracelet was lost long ago. Skully finds this a weird coincidence. A bit of a friendship surfaces between the two, basically because of Billy's suggestive powers - plus, she kind of feels for the kid.

Billy reads their thoughts and memories, and decides he wants to keep them in town.

That night, Mulder wakes up suddenly to a bright light outside, scurrying aliens, and a flash of his sister appearing on the street - he rushes outside, but she and the aliens are gone.  Scully wakes up to get a drink of water and notices Grandmother Fremont is in the hall, suddenly appearing as Scully's long dead grandmother, then back to Grandmother Fremont again.  Mulder and Scully both begin to suspect that something is just a little off in this little backwoods town. 

In the morning, Anthony confides in Scully and Mulder, he tells them the whole history of the Fremont family and the hidden town of Peaksville.  He mentioned that his son's powers are getting stronger than his own, and that he fears that Billy's thirst for power may open up the town to the outside world.

Billy suddenly enters the room and warns his father not to make up such things.  An argument begins; Anthony demands that Billy understand that the killing and creating needs to stop and that their powers should be used only for good.

Billy becomes very angry with his father, and the both of them disappear from the room and appear outside in a nearby cornfield.  Scully and Mulder rush outside and see the cornfield begin to flame up in an enormous fire. Billy and Anthony stand before the cornfield.  Billy just stands their pointing to his father, giving him the 'evil-eye'.  Anthony pleads with Billy to try and understand what is happening here, but his words go un-heard. Just as Billy is about to wish his father into the cornfield, Anthony puts the visions of when he wished his OWN father into the cornfield, into Billy's head.  Stronger and stronger the images of Grandpa Fremont in agony fill Billy's head, until in a final burst of flames, the cornfield vanishes, and Billy breaks down in tears, crying into the hugging arms of his father.  He now understands what it took years for Anthony to realize - ultimate power corrupts.

The love of father and son has won.

The mother and grandmother appear on the porch, with smiles on their once sullen faces.

Once Billy realizes that their special town needs to remain a secret, he wishes Mulder and Scully back to before they entered town. The family enters the house and the scene changes to...

Again, Skully and Mulder are pulled over on the side of some dirt road where they were at the beginning of the show - without any knowledge of Peaksville... without any memory of what happened, but with a strange feeling of lost time... 

Mulder and Scully look down to check their watches, the time is correct.

- BAM!  THE TWIST  

While Scully still looks down at her watch, she looks over at her other wrist and notices the once lost shiny bracelet that her Grandmother gave her when she was a child, wrapped around her wrist... 

With a look of chilling wonderment, Scully jokes to Mulder saying, 'DOO DEE DOO DOO... DOO DEE DOO DOO...'

The Camera rises straight above the car and fades into a star-field, the Twilight Zone theme plays and fades..

THE END