Leiningen versus the Ants

(MUSIC ... THEME ... IN AND OUT)

WILLIAM CONRAD: You are isolated on a remote plantation in the crawling Amazon 
jungle and an immense army of ravenous ants is closing in on you, swarming in 
to eat you alive. A deadly black army from which there is no escape!

(MUSIC ... "NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN" ... IN AND OUT)

ANNOUNCER: "Escape" -- produced by William N. Robson and carefully contrived 
to free you from the four walls of today for a half-hour of high adventure.

(MUSIC ... THEME ... IN AND UNDER)

WILLIAM CONRAD: Today, we escape to the Amazon jungle and to a creeping, 
crawling terror - as Carl Stephenson told it in his gripping story, "Leiningen 
versus the Ants."

(MUSIC ... A BRIDGE ... THEN UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) I had first met Leiningen while performing my duty as 
district commissioner. As my boat neared his plantation landing, I saw him 
upon the river-bank, regarding me with mild interest. A great hulk of a man 
with bristling grey hair, bulky nose, and pale eyes. His entire appearance 
somehow suggested an aging and shabby eagle. He escorted me to the terrace and 
had a drink brought. I came quickly to the point of my visit and issued my 
warning. Leiningen puffed placidly at a huge cigar and listened as I told him: 

(TO LEININGEN) Unless they alter their course ...

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (JUNGLE NOISES QUIETLY IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: ... and there's no reason why they should -- they'll reach your 
plantation in two days at the latest.

LEININGEN: Uh huh. Well, it was decent of you, paddling all this way just to 
give me the tip. 

COMMISSIONER: Tip?!

LEININGEN: Commissioner -- even a herd of crocodiles couldn't drive me from 
this plantation of mine.

COMMISSIONER: But - but - these aren't creatures you can fight -- they're an 
elemental force, a gigantic catastrophe!  Ten miles long, two miles wide -- 
ants, nothing but ants! And each one as big as your thumb and each of them a 
fiend from hell. Unless you clear out at once, there'll he nothing left of you 
but a skeleton, picked as clean as your own plantation'll be.

LEININGEN: I'm not getting out.

COMMISSIONER: But you can't fight this--

LEININGEN: Yes, I can! I've got the best weapon there is, Commissioner -- 
intelligence. 

COMMISSIONER: But can't I make you understand the hideous--?

LEININGEN: I think it is you who do not understand. In the three years I've 
been here, I've met and defeated more than one catastrophe: flood; drought; a 
plague -- events which caused many of my neighbors to flee for their lives.  
No, Commissioner, all my life, I have lived with one creed: The human brain 
needs only to become fully aware of its powers to conquer even the elements.

COMMISSIONER: Leiningen, your obstinacy is endangering not only your own life 
but the lives of your workers and their families. You don't know these ants!  
I tell you, you don't know these ants!

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) But Leiningen merely sat there, puffing at his cigar 
and regarding me with a smug grin. And I knew it was hopeless.  

As I boarded my launch and cast off, I realized I'd never met a man like that.  
And I could not help wondering ... (FADES)

LEININGEN: (OVERLAPS, NARRATES) ... I could not help wondering about the 
strange look in the Commissioner's eyes as he boarded his launch and cast off. 
Undoubtedly, he thought me insane. (CHUCKLES) Well, he would have not been the 
first to think so. But I, Leiningen, knew my own powers. I was sure of myself. 
I knew that intelligence, directed aright, always makes man the master of his 
fate. 

That night, I called my Indian workers together in front of the plantation 
house. I saw their faces go ashen with terror as I told them the ants were 
coming, watched them as they milled around, muttering.

SOUND: (WORKERS MILL AND MUTTER)

(MUSIC ... OUT)

LEININGEN: I said nothing more to them. Finally, one of the men stepped 
forward: Blath, the foreman.

FOREMAN: But, patron, we have worked hard here for these three years. All of 
us.  We have built the finest plantation in this district. We all share in it. 
It has been a home for all of us and our families. Now, the ants come.

LEININGEN: So?

FOREMAN: Those ditches we dug last year, the pipe we put in the ground -- that 
was for the ants?

LEININGEN: That was for the ants.

FOREMAN: If we moved our families across the river, the ants could not reach 
them?

LEININGEN: Yes, that's right. And you?

FOREMAN (UNCERTAIN): The ants are mighty. We know what they can do. (CERTAIN) 
All of us think that you are mighty.

SOUND: (WORKERS MURMUR AGREEMENT)

FOREMAN: Patron -- we will stay with you and fight against the ants.

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES)  I knew the men would give me that answer.  I'd counted 
on it. I thought of the Commissioner and wondered what he would say at such 
unquestioning confidence. Would he still think I was insane? Or had he ...? 
(FADES)

COMMISSIONER (OVERLAPS): All that night, I could not get Leiningen out of my 
mind. One man who calmly evaluated his chances against a deadly menace, coolly 
decided he could win, and was willing to stake his life on it, to risk a 
horrible death for it. It was terrifying. And yet - it was fascinating. The 
next morning, I sent for my assistant. Together we went to the huge map of the 
district which hung from a wall of my office and checked the last reported 
position of the ants.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

ASSISTANT: Last night, they had reached here.  

SOUND: (TAPS THE MAP)

ASSISTANT: About seventy miles above this fork in the river.

COMMISSIONER: Traveling southeast?

ASSISTANT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER: Directly toward Leiningen.

ASSISTANT: Toward, uh, whom, sir?

COMMISSIONER: Oh, that plantation at the bend in the river belongs to a man 
named Leiningen. When would you say the ants will reach there?

ASSISTANT: Why, I don't know. I imagine about tomorrow noon.

COMMISSIONER: (QUIETLY, TO HIMSELF) Tomorrow noon?  Still time.

ASSISTANT: Still time?  What do you mean, sir?

COMMISSIONER: Why-- Why, nothing.

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) But what did I mean?  Still time for what?  For 
Leiningen to flee or still time for me to--?  Even as I rejected the thought 
with horror, I knew that the fascination of that man was more than I could 
resist, that Leiningen's fight was drawing me back toward that plantation - 
and death. I knew now past all doubt that I was going back. I had to.

(MUSIC ... UP FOR AN ACCENT ... A BRIDGE, THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) It was ten o'clock in the morning when I rounded the 
bend and saw Leiningen's plantation before me.  I put in at the dock and tied 
up the launch. Then I saw him - standing on the bank above me, arms folded, 
stubby cigar in his mouth, and that same smug grin on his face. I made my way 
up to him.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (JUNGLE NOISES)

LEININGEN: Well! Back with another warning, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: No.

LEININGEN: Back to stay awhile?

COMMISSIONER: Yes.

LEININGEN: (GRUNTS ACKNOWLEDGMENT)

COMMISSIONER: You don't seem very surprised.

LEININGEN: No, I'm not.

COMMISSIONER: You expected me?

LEININGEN: I thought you'd be back. Here, come along, we'll get some horses. 
You'll want to ride around the plantation, take a look at the defenses I 
rigged up.

COMMISSIONER: Yes, I'll want to see the defenses.

LEININGEN: And the ants. We'll be a getting a glimpse of 'em before long, I 
should think.

COMMISSIONER: (WITHOUT ENTHUSIASM) Yes ... the ants.

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) The defenses Leiningen had devised were quite 
impressive. Surrounding three sides of the plantation like a huge horseshoe 
was a ditch, twelve feet wide. The ends of this horseshoe-shaped ditch ran 
into the river which formed the fourth side of the plantation. And at the up-
river entrance to the ditch, Leiningen had constructed a dam by which river 
water could be diverted into the ditch. A large hand-wheel controlled the 
floodgate of the dam and apparently Leiningen had ordered it opened 
immediately after my arrival. For, as we now approached the ditch and rode 
along it, I could see that it was nearly full.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (HORSES AND THEIR HOOFBEATS)

LEININGEN: How do you like my first line of defense, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: It's - reassuring. Like - like a moat around a castle.

LEININGEN: (LAUGHS) Unless the ants know how to build rafts, they won't reach 
the plantation. This is only the outer moat. There's a better one than this.  
Here, come along. We'll go up on the high ground where the buildings are. We 
can get a view from there.

SOUND: (HOOFBEATS QUICKEN)

COMMISSIONER: Leiningen!

LEININGEN: Huh?

COMMISSIONER: I - I didn't see any women or children around the plantation, or 
any animals.

LEININGEN: Yes, that's right. Moved them across the river.

COMMISSIONER: Then even you think there is danger?

LEININGEN: Not because of danger, Commissioner. A matter of efficiency. 

COMMISSIONER: Efficiency?

LEININGEN: Cuts down the efficiency of the men if they're worried about their 
families. (DRYLY) Critical situations only become crises when oxen and women 
get excited.

COMMISSIONER: (WRYLY) I see.

LEININGEN: Ah, here we are.

SOUND: (HOOFBEATS SLOW)

LEININGEN: See this ditch?

COMMISSIONER:  It's much smaller than the other.

LEININGEN: You've noticed how all the buildings are on this piece of high 
ground.  This inner ditch surrounds them. It's lined with concrete.

COMMISSIONER: But - but even filled with water, this is no barrier. It's not 
big enough. Why, if the ants get this far, they'll--

LEININGEN: They'll get no farther. This ditch wasn't built for water, 
Commissioner. You see the pipes leading into it? See those storage tanks up on 
the hill? Petrol. We can throw up a wall of flame. Huh! Care to bet they won't 
like that? 

SOUND: (ANIMALS STAMPEDE)

COMMISSIONER: I hope you're ri--  Leiningen! Look! Over at the edge of the 
jungle.  All those animals.  

LEININGEN: Yes. Running like the wind. Everything from jaguars to monkeys.

COMMISSIONER: Good heavens!

LEININGEN: Remember, they don't have any ditches.

COMMISSIONER: But can they escape?

LEININGEN: They'll be all right as long as they don't get caught between the 
river and the ants. They can outrun the crawlers. But if they get trapped, 
it's either the ants or the crocodiles. (PAUSE) Commissioner! Look!  

(MUSIC ... MARCH OF THE KILLER ANTS ... BUILDS IN BG)

LEININGEN: Look over there on the horizon. There are your ants! Look at 'em!

(MUSIC ... MARCH OF THE KILLER ANTS ... A BRIEF BRIDGE, THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) It was a sight I will never forget. Over the range of 
hills, as far as I could see, crept a darkening hem, ever longer and broader, 
until the shadow spread across the entire slope, then downward, downward, 
uncannily swift. And all the green herbiage on the entire slope was being 
mowed as by a giant sickle, leaving only the vast moving shadow, extending, 
deepening -- and always moving nearer.

LEININGEN: Heh! They're a hideous lot.

COMMISSIONER: Leiningen, we can't last against that. Look at them! Why, 
they'll fill your ditches with their corpses and still have enough to destroy 
every one of us. We've got to run!

LEININGEN: (A MOMENT OF DOUBT) Well, I...  (SUDDENLY DEFIANT) No! They haven't 
gotten to us yet -- and they never will.

(MUSIC ... MARCH BRIDGE ... THEN A SLOWER TEMPO, IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) The hostile army was approaching in perfect 
formation. No human battalions, however well-drilled, could ever hope to rival 
the precision of that advance. Along a front that moved forward as uniformly 
as a straight line, the ants drew nearer and nearer to the water ditch. As 
they approached, two outlying wings of the army detached themselves from the 
main body and started marching along the sides of the ditch, no doubt 
expecting at some point to find a crossing. And during this hour-long flanking 
movement, the main army remained still. Across the scant twelve feet of ditch, 
I stared at them -- and they stared back at me, a solid mass every one as big 
as my thumb with reddish black body and long legs.  

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (A HORRIFIC HOWLING WHICH CONTINUES UNDER THE FOLLOWING:)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Suddenly, a sound so unearthly as to freeze our blood 
jerked our heads in the direction of the jungle on the far side of the ditch.  
Coming toward the ditch at a stumbling gallop was a singular being: a 
writhing, animal-like blackened statue with a shapeless head and four 
quivering feet. It was a stag, covered over and over with ants. Leiningen 
threw up his rifle...

SOUND: (GUNSHOT; HOWLING STOPS ... THE STAG COLLAPSES)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES)  ... and the stag fell lifeless to the ground, it's 
agonies at an end.  Horrified as I was, my curiosity impelled me to glance at 
my watch. I - I had to know how long the ants would take. 

(MUSIC ... TO EAT A STAG BY ... IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) After six minutes, only the white polished bones of 
the stag remained. 

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Now I could see a change in Leiningen. Gone was the 
sporting zest of the novel contest. In its place was a cold violent purpose. 
He had to beat the ants because now he knew how long it would take them once 
they got to us.

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT TO FILL A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES)  Around four in the afternoon, the ants' scouts, 
having found no crossing, there was a stirring among the main army. And then 
an immense flood of ants, about a hundred yards in width, commenced pouring in 
a glimmering-black cataract down the far slope of the ditch. Thousands drowned 
instantly but the rest began using the bodies as bridges. Leiningen 
immediately swung into action.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (MEN'S VOICES)

LEININGEN: Anhail?! 

WORKER 1: Si, patron?

LEININGEN: Get to the dam! Open the floodgate a little more. We've got to get 
the water in the ditch moving faster.

WORKER 1: Si, Senor!

LEININGEN: Look at 'em drown -- in the thousands!

COMMISSIONER: But they keep coming. Even though the current carries many of 
them away, they're advancing.

LEININGEN: Ah, we'll fix them. Blath?

FOREMAN: Senor?

LEININGEN: How 'bout those shovels and petrol sprinklers -- you passed them 
out to the men?!

FOREMAN: It has been done, Senor.

LEININGEN: Then get all hands here in a hurry! This looks like the spot for 
action! Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: Yes?

LEININGEN: Beginning to see what I was talking about?

COMMISSIONER: What do you mean?

LEININGEN: About intelligence being more than a match for anything it tackles. 
Take the ants. They've got no intelligence. If they had, they'd have attacked 
along the whole length of the ditch instead of a narrow front like this. 
They'd've been across by now. (LAUGHS) Too bad I'm not running their campaign 
for them.

COMMISSIONER: You can joke about it like that with the ants halfway across the 
ditch?

LEININGEN: All right, men! Busy with the shovels now! Dump some sand and clods 
on 'em! See how they like that!

SOUND: (MEN GO TO WORK -- CHATTERING, SHOVELING AND DUMPING)

LEININGEN: You, with the petrol sprinklers! Start pumping!

SOUND: (MEN CHATTER AND PUMP)

LEININGEN: (LAUGHS) They don't like it, Commissioner! They don't like it a 
bit! Look at 'em!

COMMISSIONER: Yes. But look at the ones on the far side of the ditch -- whole 
clumps of them rolling into the water. The rest are using them for bridges.

LEININGEN: Yes, smarter than I thought. They're widening their front, too. 

COMMISSIONER: Some of them are getting across! 

LEININGEN: Well, grab a shovel, then, Commissioner. Make 'em regret it.

WORKER 2: (SCREAMS)

LEININGEN: What's the matter?

WORKER 2: The ants are on my shovel, Senor! They're on my arms! (SCREAMS)

LEININGEN: Into the petrol, idiot! Douse your hands in the petrol!

SOUND: (SPLASH OF PETROL ... WORKERS REACT)

LEININGEN: Don't stop now, the rest of you! Club 'em! Club 'em!

WORKER 3: We can't hold them back, Senor -- we must run!

LEININGEN: Keep at it! Keep at it! Don't stop now! Aha! The water's moving 
faster.  

COMMISSIONER: Anhail's got the floodgates open.

LEININGEN: Yes. They can't hold their own against the current now. Look at 
'em, Commissioner! The water's carrying them away! We've beat 'em! We've won 
out!

(MUSIC ... TRIUMPHANT ... THEN, MORE SOBERLY, IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) It was true. Leiningen had won. At least, the opening 
round. The floodgates were left open to forestall any night crossing but when 
dawn came, the dark blanket was still there, motionless across the ditch.  
Then we noticed the feverish activity on the other side of the plantation.  
Here, a grove of tamarind trees lined the far end of the ditch -- and every 
tree swarmed with the crawling insects. But instead of eating the leaves, they 
were merely gnawing through the stems, so that a thick green shower fell 
steadily to the ground.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

COMMISSIONER: Well, it looks as if it's feeding time for our friends, eh?

LEININGEN: Blath?

FOREMAN: Senor?

LEININGEN: Have all the petrol pumps brought here. Get everyone over here 
except the lookouts on the other side. And pass out the shovels.

FOREMAN: Si, senor.

COMMISSIONER: Going to deprive them of a meal?

LEININGEN: A meal?

COMMISSIONER: Aren't they cutting the leaves down for food?

LEININGEN: Wish they were. Looks like I underestimated them when I said they 
didn't have intelligence.

COMMISSIONER: What do you mean?

LEININGEN: I said if they wanted to get across, they'd have to have rafts. 
That's just what they've got. Those leaves are their rafts.

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT ... THEN UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Even as he spoke, the leaves went tumbling down the 
far bank by the thousands. The current drew them away from the bank and each 
leaf carried several ants.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (SPLASH OF WATER, MEN'S VOICES)

LEININGEN: Don't worry! As long as you keep spraying them and shoveling dirt 
on their rafts, they can't land!

FOREMAN: But there will be too many!

COMMISSIONER: It's true! Look, more leaves in the ditch all the time. Why, 
they'll have a solid carpet to walk across in a minute.

LEININGEN: Not so fast, Commissioner. I've still got a trick up my sleeve for 
them.

SOUND: (WORKERS SUDDENLY SHOUT AND HOLLER IN SHOCK)

COMMISSIONER: The ditch is drying up!

LEININGEN: Yes! Yes, of course, it's drying up. That's the plan. Those are the 
orders I sent to the dam.

COMMISSIONER: Are you mad?   As soon as it's empty, what's to prevent the 
ants--?  

FOREMAN: Look!  

COMMISSIONER: The water's way down! It's almost dry! They'll be able to come 
across the bottom!

LEININGEN: They'll not make it! The man at the dam will have opened the gates 
by now.

COMMISSIONER: (UNDERSTANDS) To - flood the ants?

LEININGEN: Right.

COMMISSIONER: But what a chance to take! If anything should happen--! 

SOUND: (WATER WHOOSHES DOWN THE DITCH)

LEININGEN: Aha! Here it comes! Here comes the water! Ah! Now we'll give the 
crawlers in the ditch a good ride -- out into the river! There! Look at 'em 
go!

SOUND: (WORKERS CHATTER HAPPILY; THE WATER WHOOSHES BY)

(MUSIC ... TRIUMPHANT AGAIN ... THEN, SOBERLY AGAIN, IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Leiningen's tactics were successful -- at first. The 
violent flow of water at the original depth raced through the ditch, 
overwhelming leaves and ants, and sweeping them along. Three times, the ditch 
was emptied. Three times, the ants raced across its bottom. And three times, 
the rushing water - arriving just in time - carried them away. But the fourth 
time, as the water lowered nearly to the bottom of the ditch, we waited in 
vain for the rushing water ...

FOREMAN: Senor!

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES)  ... and then:

(MUSIC ... OUT)

FOREMAN: Senor!

LEININGEN: What's the matter?  What's gone wrong at the dam?  

FOREMAN: The ants! Just as the man at the dam lowered the water almost to the 
bottom, the ants attacked. Before he could open the floodgates, he was almost 
surrounded. He ran. The ants kept coming. They are across the ditch!

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES)  Leiningen stood motionless, absorbing the news of 
his defeat without a word. Then he raised his pistol and fired three shots 
into the air ...

SOUND: (THREE LOUD PISTOL SHOTS)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES)  ... the prearranged signal for all men to retreat, 
instantly, to the second line of defense, the concrete ditches more than a 
mile from the point of invasion. Soon after we arrived there, the natives 
commenced straggling in, silently. Leiningen waited until all of them had 
gathered. Then he spoke.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (WORKERS MURMUR)

LEININGEN: Well, lads -- we won the first round, lost the second. But we'll 
smash the crawlers yet. Anyone who thinks otherwise can draw his pay and push 
off. There're rafts enough on the river and plenty of time still to reach 'em.

SOUND: (WORKERS SPEAK AT ONCE, REJECTING THE IDEA)

LEININGEN: You'll stay, then?

SOUND: (WORKERS RESPOND AFFIRMATIVELY)

LEININGEN: Good. Thank you, lads. And you, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: I - I can't persuade you to give up the fight?

LEININGEN: You cannot.

COMMISSIONER: Then... I stay, too.

LEININGEN: (GRUNTS ACKNOWLEDGMENT) I knew you would.

FOREMAN: Senor! Senor! A few of the ants have reached the ditch!

LEININGEN: They're trying to get across?

FOREMAN: No, Senor.

LEININGEN: I didn't think they would. There's plenty of food out there for 
them. My fields and orchards, the work of three years. Ought to last them 
until morning anyway.

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Yes, we were safe for that night. But the next 
morning, the black swarm was solid around us and their shock troops were hard 
at work. They were dropping shreds of bark and twigs and leaves into the 
petrol-filled ditches forming a floating bridge across the surface of the 
liquid. Leiningen stood silently watching this operation and I could see a 
grudging admiration in his face. Then, after several hours, the attack came.

(MUSIC ... MARCH OF THE KILLER ANTS ... A BRIDGE, THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Down the ditch they poured -- millions of them! -- 
and, across the bridge of twigs, rapidly approaching the inner side. Leiningen 
sat motionless, watching them - watching them ...

(MUSIC ... OUT)

COMMISSIONER: Leiningen, for the love of God, don't sit there like a statue!  
They'll be on us in a moment!

LEININGEN: Let them fill the ditch first. Mm. Now! All right! Everyone back! 
Get back!

SOUND: (WORKERS MUTTER IN BG)

LEININGEN: Blath?

FOREMAN: Si, Senor?

LEININGEN: Hand me the torch.

FOREMAN: Si, Senor.

LEININGEN: Now we'll see how our friends like a little - HEAT!

SOUND: (PETROL IGNITES AND BURNS)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) The flames from the ditch shot into the air, 
devouring ants by the millions. It was some time before the petrol burned down 
to the bed of the ditch, but when it did, the devils came back for more. 
Again, Leiningen fired the ditch to destroy them. And still again they came 
on. But, at each successive firing, the path of the ants grew easier because 
of the film of ash which now covered the petrol. As they returned to the 
assault, time after time, a slow, sickening horror crept into my mind. I 
looked quickly at Leiningen, then at the petrol tanks. He read my gaze and 
nodded slowly.

LEININGEN: That's right, Commissioner. We could hold them off forever if our 
supply of petrol was unlimited. But it isn't. We've got enough to fill the 
ditch once more.

COMMISSIONER: (PANICS) But, Leiningen, isn't there any way? Any way at all? 
We've got to do something!

LEININGEN: Yes, I know, I know. There must be a way. There must-- (GETS AN 
IDEA) Yes. Yes! 

COMMISSIONER: What is it?

LEININGEN: We'll flood the whole plantation.

COMMISSIONER: Flood? But how?

LEININGEN: The river's higher than any point except this high ground we're on.  

COMMISSIONER: Mm?

LEININGEN: If the river was dammed all the way, it'd overflow that stone 
breakwater and flood the whole plantation.  

COMMISSIONER: But--

LEININGEN: We've got to close the floodgate at the dam - that'll do it!

COMMISSIONER: You're mad! The dam is more than a mile away! More than a mile 
of ants!  

LEININGEN: Lads! Listen to me!

SOUND: (WORKERS RESPOND)

LEININGEN: Listen, lads! I'm proud of you! Now, there's still a chance! By 
shutting the floodgates to the damn and flooding the whole plantation from the 
river! The moment I'm over the ditch, set fire to it! That'll allow time for 
the flood to wash away the ants! Then all you have to do is wait for me!

COMMISSIONER: It's - it's impossible! You can't GET to the dam, let alone 
back.

LEININGEN: That's where you're wrong, Commissioner. I'll get there and I'll 
get back. Take care of things while I'm gone, huh?

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) I watched him as he calmly pulled on high leather 
boots, drew gauntlets over his hands, and stuffed the spaces between breeches 
and boots, and gauntlets and arms, with petrol-soaked rags. He shielded his 
eyes with close-fitting mosquito goggles and plugged his nostrils and ears 
with cotton. Then the natives drenched his clothes with petrol. Blath, who 
acted as doctor to the men, smeared a salve over him and, finally, Leiningen 
was ready. And as he stood calmly surveying the course ... (FADES)

LEININGEN: (OVERLAPS) ... ready for the run, I realized that this was as it 
should be: I, Leiningen, would meet the ants and defeat them -- or be defeated 
by them. (CHUCKLES GRIMLY) Leiningen versus the ants! Yes, it was right that 
it should be like this. But now there was no more time for thought -- only 
action. I took a deep breath... then bounded across the ditch in among the 
ants.

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN IN BG)

SOUND: (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS, HEAVY BREATHING, ETC., CONSISTENT WITH FOLLOWING:)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) I ran. I ran in long, equal strides, and with one 
thought, one sensation, in my being -- I must get through. I dodged the trees 
and shrubs. Except for the split seconds my soles touched the ground, the ants 
would have no opportunity to alight on me. I ran on. I was halfway to the dam 
before I felt ants under my clothes, and a few on my face. I struck at them 
mechanically, scarcely conscious of their bites. The dam drew towards me 
slowly. The distance grew less... less...  Finally, only a hundred yards away. 
Fifty! And I was there. 

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS STOP)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) I gripped the ant-covered wheel. But hardly had I seized 
it when a horde of ants flowed over my hands and arms. I strained.  

SOUND: (WHEEL CREAKS)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) Slowly, the wheel turned... turned more... The 
floodgates were swinging slowly shut. And then it WAS shut.

SOUND: (METAL CLANGS SHUT)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) And the water was rising...  

SOUND: (WATER RISES)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) Rising behind the breakwater -- closer to the top.  
Closer! And then it was spilling over. 

SOUND: (WATER SPILLS)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) The flooding of the plantation had begun. I let go of 
the wheel and started back through the ants.  

SOUND: (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) I was coated from head to foot with the fiends. Tongues 
of fire stabbed at me as they bit into my flesh. I almost lost my head with 
the pain as I ran, knocking ants from my body, brushing them from my bloodied 
face, and then one bit me just below the rim of my goggles. I managed to tear 
it away, but the agony of the bite and its venom drilled into the eye nerves. 
I saw now through circles of fire into a milky mist. I was almost blinded but 
I knew that if I tripped and fell, it-- Well, I ran on, my heart pounding as 
if it would burst; blood roaring in my ears; a giant's fist battering my 
lungs. Then, I could see dimly that wall of flame at the ditch. (WEAKENING) 
But it was too far away. I - I could not last half that distance.  

SOUND: (HE STUMBLES AND FALLS)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) I stumbled. I fell. I felt myself being swarmed over -- 
devoured! Tried to rise-- A great weight-- Then suddenly the vision of the 
half-devoured stag in my brain. Six minutes, then nothing but bones. I 
couldn't let it happen to me! I couldn't die like that!  

SOUND: (STRUGGLES TO HIS FEET)

LEININGEN: (NARRATES) To my feet. To my feet. Dragged myself forward, toward 
the flame. The ditch! The ring of flames! Closer, now! Only a little further!  
Ten steps!  (FADES)

COMMISSIONER: (OVERLAPS, NARRATES) It seemed we had waited for hours, when all 
at once, through the blazing ring around us, an apparition hurtled and fell 
full length on the ground. It was Leiningen -- alive with ants, unconscious, 
with blazing eyes and lacerated face. We rushed to him, stripped off his 
clothes, and tore at the ants that covered him. His body seemed almost one 
open wound. In one place, I could see a white bone.

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, A MARCHING BRIDGE, THEN IN BG)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) Later, as the curtain of flame lowered, I looked out 
to where that blanket of ants had been and saw only a vast expanse of water, 
covering the entire plantation and working its way to within a few feet of the 
concrete ditch. The ants were gone -- drowned -- and Leiningen had won.  

(MUSIC ... A TRIUMPHANT BRIDGE, THEN OUT)

COMMISSIONER: (NARRATES) He lay on his bed, his body swathed from head to foot 
with bandages. But alive. And still in command.

LEININGEN: (WEAKLY) Every - thing in order?

COMMISSIONER: Everything's in order.

LEININGEN: I - told you I'd come back. (CHUCKLES) Even - if I am a - bit 
streamlined.

(MUSIC ... TO A FINISH ... IN AND OUT)

ANNOUNCER: "Escape"! Produced by William N. Robson and directed by Norman 
Macdonnell today brought you "Leiningen versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, 
adapted for radio by Robert Ryf with William Conrad as Leiningen and Lou 
Merrill as The Commissioner. Music was conceived by Cy Feuer with Eddie 
Dunstedter at the organ.

(MUSIC ... THEME)

ANNOUNCER: Next week:

2ND ANNOUNCER: You are groping through a dark alleyway in the French Quarter 
of New Orleans, with terror driving you on, and always before your eyes is the 
malevolent stare of a voodoo man striking you with a deadly curse from which 
you must - escape!

(MUSIC ... "NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN" ... IN AND OUT)

ANNOUNCER: Next week, we escape with William Irish's eerie story of a voodoo-
haunted bandleader, "Papa Benjamin." Goodbye, then, until this same time next 
week - when we again offer you - "Escape"!

(CLOSING MUSIC ... IN BG)

ANNOUNCER: This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.

(MUSIC ... OUT)


________________________________
Broadcast date:  14 January 1948













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