Andrew Steele

Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre

Ray Bradbury's Tales of the Bizarre aired on BBC Radio 4 with radio adaptations of his book of the same name. It features two episodes (Night Call, Collect and The Wind) which also aired as part of the Bradbury 13 series. As with Bradbury 13, each episode begins with Bradbury himself providing an introduction.

Series 1

Night Call, Collect

It is 2097 and eight year old Emile Barton is sitting alone on Mars, listening to the sound of the wind outside. His telephone rings, for the first time in decades. The caller is revealed to be his younger self. The caller recollects nuclear war breaking out on Earth and everyone except Barton being called home, and how he connected places all over Mars to the telephone network and made recordings of his own voice onto tape. Heading out for a walk, Barton hears phones ringing over the town. Picking up, the caller continues to describe the loneliness of his years on Mars as older Barton’s heart begins to suffer under the stress. Barton sets off trying to destroy the telephone poles, but soon gives up due to the number of them. At home, he receives another call from a captain of a ship which has just landed on Mars. Barton sets off to meet the crew so they can conduct repairs, before leaving for Earth. Driving all night to reach the destination, Barton finds that he has been tricked by his own recording and there is no ship.

Have I Got a Chocolate Bar For You

In the confessional, a priest hears the familiar voice of a man, and smells a familiar smell. The man does not stay long; leaving before the priest can see the man. The story goes back in time to when the man came to confessional while the priest, at the time a father, was preparing to end his confessional session. The man walks into the confessional, and confesses that he is a "chocolate junkie" that is unable to forgo his addiction. Returning several times over the next couple of weeks, the man continues to talk about his addiction to chocolate despite the father only being able to listen. As the end of summer approaches, the man admits he is not a Catholic resulting in the father becoming angry, though the man says he has been helped as he has lost a large amount of weight and lost his chocolate addiction. He also announces that he is leaving and does not know if he will come back, though says he will come back when he has a gift for the father blessed by the pope. Back in the current day, the priest heads to the poor box and finds a large pile of chocolate bars.

The Jar

At a carnival side show, a man named Charlie is charmed with "The Jar" which he has visited a number of times and eventually manages convince the carnival owner to sell it to him. Taking the jar to Charlie's dilapidated, it becomes a palace with The Jar as its emperor. People from miles around come to Charlie's home to sit and stare at the object. Though each person sees something different in The Jar, they all agree on the things eye and hair colour, and that what is inside can move and changes. They also see a manifestation of evil or sin inside the jar. Mrs. Tridden sees the form of her three-year-old son who was lost in the swamp, while Juke Marmer remembers a childhood incident in which he drowned a litter of newborn kittens. Thedy, Charlie's wife, who has been having an affair sees her husband appear in the jar. Charlie, having become tired of his wife's extramarital activities murders her. Afterwards, Charlie looks into the jar and finds the object familiar like the rest of the townspeople, as his wife can no longer wander from him again.

The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl

Mr. Acton is standing over the body of Mr. Huxley, after he has murdered him. He hears a voice in his mind which begins to question what he has touched as the fingerprint evidence will almost certainly be found in the investigation. He also has flashbacks of his encounters with Mr. Huxley and their arguments over Actons' wife who has left him for Huxley, and is taking a trip with him to Mexico the following day. His flashbacks lead him to believe there are more and more fingerprints of his all over the victims house, and in a frenzy begins trying to remove the potential evidence over the course of several hours. However, this distracts him from his main objective which is to get away from the scene of the crime. As such, he is eventually caught after cleaning the entire house when he is found re-polishing the glass fruit at the bottom of the bowl.

I Sing the Body Electric

A young mother passes away, leaving her children and their father left with the choice of moving in with a disliked aunt, or replacing her with "Mark V", an electric grandmother. The robot is intended to help around the house, and leaves children Tom, Timothy and Agatha delighted as they can select the parts that make her up. Some weeks later, the delivery is made and the electric grandmother springs to life. Everyone is happy, except Agatha, who remains distant and untrusting of the robot. She believes that the robot will eventually leave them, just as their mother did. Running from the houes in tears, Agatha strays into traffic. The electric grandmother pushes her to safety, and is hit, but escapes from the accident mostly unscathed. The grandmother comforts Agatha and tells her that death can not separate them, leading Agatha to finally come around to the idea that the robot is the only one who can keep that promise, before finally opening up to her.

Skeleton

Mr. Harris visits his doctor with his continued obsession, feeling that there is a problem, but the doctor finds nothing wrong. Still uncertain, Mr. Harris finds that another man may be able to head and heads over to see him. The sinister man - Munigant - a "bone specialist" proclaims that the skeleton is the problem, and that it has become its own form separate from his true self. He attempts to perform a procedure, but finds Mr. Harris uncooperative and sees him on his way suggesting he come back when he is ready. Back at home, his obsession continues as he talks to his wife. She tries to get him to take his mind off his issues, with their plan for opening a business. Wondering whether he can put on weight to hide his skeleton, he finds that it starts to inflict pain on him. Resolving to be seen by Munigant again, he invites him around to help him as his condition becomes worse. The man begins to work by feeding on his skeleton. Harris's wife returns home and meets Munigant on the way out. Stepping inside she finds her husband in a jellyfish-like state on the floor.

Series 2

The Man Upstairs

Douglas watches his grandmother stuff chickens in her boarding house, and believes he could do it himself having seen it so many times. A strange gentleman named Mr. Koberman, who sleeps all day and can not abide silver, rents a room and Douglas immediately takes a dislike to him. Douglas catches sight of Koberman through multi-coloured glass windows and believes he can see the mans innards. Koberman eventually catches Douglas spying on him through the glass, so resolves to break the window, with Douglas taking the blame. Douglas sneaks into the room with the broken glass, examining Koberman, before taking a large kitchen knife and performing exploratory surgery on Koberman. Inside the man's body, he discovers odd shaped and coloured gelatin objects which he takes to his grandmother to identify them. Koberman does not die initially from the removal of the items, but from the stuffing used by Douglas, which consists of six dollars and seventy cents worth of silver coins sewn into his chest.

Jack in the Box

Edwin, a young teenager lives in a large, secluded mansion with his mother, and has been taught that the house is the universe. His father, the previous God, was killed by a "beast" in the garden, and his mother uses this to keep him inside. Edwin can not help but wonder about the outside, and he uses the views out of the various windows to try to capture a glimpse of the world beyond. There are however various forbidden rooms in which the doors are locked, until one day when a forbidden room door is left unlocked. Climbing the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, he manages to get on to the roof and see above the trees. Arriving late to class with "teacher", who is actually his mother in disguise, he is reminded of the construction of his world as she prepares for him to become "God" when he reaches twenty-one. As Edwin continues to ask questions about his environment, his mother moves his birthday forward two months and gives him the key to a forbidden door containing an elevator. Later however he finds his mother has collapsed and died leaving Edwin uncertain on what to do. He heads outside to find "teacher" and joyfully enters the outside world.

The Scythe

Drew Erikson stops his car, containing his wife and two children, in front of a small house near a wheat field. His destitute family enter the house in search of food, and find an old man lying dead in his bed. Drew reads a note left by the man that he is entitling the ownershop of the house and land to whomever enters the house. Settling into life on the farm, Drew notices odd goings on such as the wheat rotting within hours of being cut, and new growth quickly appearing. A scythe also has the ability to force Drew to keep on working even when he wishes to stop, and he discovers that each time the scythe makes a broad cut, hundreds of people die somehwere in the world. Realising the truth, he stops cutting before his family are also killed, and refuses to cut any more. The following night, a blaze begins in the cottage with his wife and children in. The family are unharmed, but Drew can not awaken them. Realising that their natural death should have occurred the previous day when he was supposed to cut the wheat, Drew hurries into the field and wields the scythe rapidly as he goes.

The Wind

While preparing dinner, Herb answers the phone to friend Allin who is panicked as winds are building near his home, though Herb tries to settle him. On getting off the phone, Herb faces his wife’s upset who is fed up with the constant calls from Allin. He tries to explain to her that Allin suffered through winds in various parts of the world on his travels which has affected him mentally. On Allin calling again, Herb can hear a strong wind battering the house over the line. Allin describes the wind as some kind of personality which is actively chasing and playing with him. With little option to help, Herb suggests he call him back in an hour and hangs up. While entertaining that evening, Herb receives another call from Allin who is more upset as the wind has now blown in his front wall forcing a retreat to the kitchen. Herb discusses the issue with his guests, and plans to talk to a psychologist while also planning to head out to Allin’s house. When the guests leave, Herb attempts to call again but finds the line is dead. Grabbing his coat to head out to Allin’s house, he hears a laughter. Believing Allin has come over, he finds nothing.

And So Died Riabouchinska

A man, Mr. Ockham, has been murdered at the theatre in which he is appearing, and detective John Krovitch is investigating. John Fabian, a vaudeville performer becomes the prime suspect. Fabian's ventriloquist doll Riabouchinska proves key to the investigation as she insists on being part of the interview conversation. Fabian's wife Alyce also describes their relationship as her being second best to the doll, resulting in an affair she had with Douglas, Fabian's manager. Krovitch theorises the murderer tried to blackmail Alyce and Douglas, resulting in his murder, however Fabian knew about the affair already. Krovitch then discovers a poster showing Fabian with a ballerina named Illyana who resembles Riabouchinska. Fabian admits Illyana was a previous love who disappeared after a quarrel, and so Riabouchinska was made to resemble her. Riabouchinska then reveals that they have been receiving blackmail letters which threaten to expose Fabian, and that Fabian struck and killed Illyana as well as committing the murder of Ockham. Riabouchinska goes silent and becomes another still wooden puppet.

The Day It Rained Forever

At a remote hotel in a ghost town, three men who have been in the accomodation for decades await the January rains. Mr. Terle, Mr. Fremley and Mr. Smith find the heat of the desert almost unbearable and the surrounding desert to be sterile, with the potential for wet weather taking up much of the three's thoughts. Hearing a rumbling sound in the distance, they are visited by a strange musician - Miss Blanche Hillgood. She gets stuck at the hotel for some time as her car breaks down and is unable to be repaired. When she begins to play her harp, the rains quickly begin to fall. With each note she plays, the drops patter on the hotel roof, and upon the dying cactus that sits in the front yard. Feeling the friendly atmosphere of the gentlemen and the hotel, she decides to make the venue her permanent residence which ensures the times of the long rains have arrived.