Life imitates the Twilight Zone

Rod Serling was certainly a creative genius, but who knew he was a clairvoyant, with the ability to predict the future?  Or, more specifically, who knew that, back in November 1961, he had the ability to predict the Winter of 2010, a record-breaking American winter playing out against the hysteria about Global Warming and imminent immolation?

I realized that Serling had peered into the future when I kept thinking there was something familiar about the pattern we’re seeing now, an extreme winter following on intense fears about the earth literally cooking to death.  Then it hit me:

“The Midnight Sun” is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

[snip]

Opening narration

Mrs. Bronson mentions what she’s heard on the radio, and shudders, “And that’s why we’re….we’re-”

“The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is doomed, because the people you’ve just seen have been handed a death sentence.

One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit and in doing so began to follow a path which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man’s little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries – they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. The time is five minutes to twelve, midnight. There is no more darkness. The place is New York City and this is the eve of the end, because even at midnight it’s high noon, the hottest day in history, and you’re about to spend it in the Twilight Zone.”

Synopsis

The Earth has begun moving away from its usual orbit. The sun is gradually growing larger and will continue doing so until the seas boil and the earth is a raging blaze. A prolific artist, Norma, and her landlady, Mrs. Bronson, are the last people in their apartment building. The rest of the people in the apartment complex either moved north where it is much cooler or perished from the extremely high temperatures. Norma and Mrs. Bronson try to keep each other company as they see life as they know it slowly drain away. They watch in terror as their water supply is turned on for merely an hour a day, and their electricity is being greatly conserved. Food and water are growing to be extremely scarce. As mentioned by a radio reporter, all citizens are to remain indoors and to remain prepared for a looter rampage. The radio reporter also states that you can “cook eggs on your sidewalk and cook soup in the oceans”.

As time progresses, and as the temperature grows hotter and hotter, it is visibly noticed how much the two women perspire. Mrs. Bronson’s mind cannot handle the psychological pressures of the conditions any longer, and wishes that Norma paints a picture of a topic other than that of a burning city. Footsteps are heard from outside the apartment door. Norma asks her landlady if she locked the doors of the apartment complex. Mrs. Bronson thinks for a moment, and is uncertain if she did. They hear a knock on the door and Mrs. Bronson starts to answer it as Norma screams for her to not open the door under any circumstances. Norma threatens the mysterious man with a gun as he breaks his way into the apartment and drinks their supply of water. After several moments, he begs for their forgiveness and claims that he is an honest man and would never hurt them.

Unable to cope with the literally unbearable conditions of the raging sun, Mrs. Bronson collapses to the floor and perishes. The thermometer surges past 120°F, and eventually shatters. As Norma’s oil paintings melt from the extreme heat, Norma screams and also collapses.

The scene cuts to the apartment at night. In the inconceivably frigid darkness outside, the weather is anything but hot. The same thermometer reads -10°F and there is a blizzard outside. Norma is bedridden with a high fever, and is accompanied by Mrs. Bronson and a doctor. She was only dreaming that the Earth was moving closer to the sun. In reality, the Earth is moving away from the Sun, which will eventually lead to the earth freezing over. Norma tells Mrs. Bronson about her nightmare, adding, “Isn’t it wonderful to have darkness, and coolness?”

Mrs. Bronson replies with a sense of dread in her voice, “Yes, my dear, it’s….wonderful.”

Closing narration

“The poles of fear, the extremes of how the Earth might conceivably be doomed. Minor exercise in the care and feeding of a nightmare, respectfully submitted by all the thermometer-watchers in the Twilight Zone.”

Brilliant, nu?

The last six minutes, for your enjoyment and edification: