The tinkling music from THE TWILIGHT ZONE entered the room which, moments before, had consisted of my dad sitting round faced and contented on the couch and my mom collecting cups and plates from the coffee table. The room suddenly became filled with electricity and an undeniable current that the spirit world might soon emerge.
ROD SERLING appeared. He walked casually into our living room with black hair and a thoughtful glimmer in his eyes. He spoke as if to me alone. Secretly, at age nine, I had a crush on him. How could you not? He spoke in a smooth knowing voice. Cigarette smoke, unheard of today, swirled around his perceptive face. He knew the secrets of the universe and he was willing to give you a glimpse but only if you dared to journey with him through the Twilight Zone.
I felt as if I had a special connection to ROD SERLING. As if only somebody with my understanding of the inner workings of people could be of any interest to him. I felt as if I shared a special bond with this man who penetrated the depths of human life. I braced myself. My stomach fluttered. My mom gave me sideways glances trying to protect me from my own curiosity.
“Please mom, let me stay up for THE TWILIGHT ZONE.” I had jumped up and down earlier as I begged my case.
“It comes on too late. You have to go to sleep.”
“There’s not even school tomorrow.”
“You’ll be frightened. Remember when your camp friend Rose Hoffsteader told you those scary stories. You couldn’t sleep.”
“I won’t. I promise. This is different. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.”
I sat cross-legged in front of the television with my stomach in my mouth and my hands pushing down on the half worn rug. My fingers and toes felt icy. Just the sound of the music made breathing difficult and snacking impossible. All my energy was focused on just sitting there.
A woman lies in bed with her face wrapped in white gauze bandages like a mummy. There is a slit for her mouth and a place for her nose to breath. The room is dark and sterile. A doctor and a nurse stand over her bed in silhouetted figures. They are talking with her. She is telling them that she hopes the operation worked. She had been so ugly her whole life. This is her last chance to become normal looking.
It seems that the ugly deformed people are exiled from this place where she and the doctor live. The outcasts have to live on a special island or another planet. This woman so much wants to become normal looking and live like everybody else. She told the doctor that all her life she had been ostracized and people ran from her.
The hospital room is so still with dim lightening. The possibility of seeing an ugly face looms. My body was stiff. I sat with my hands ready to cover my eyes and my legs ready to bolt. The doctor says that he will remove the bandages the next day.
He begins to take the bandages off. My hands were over my face as I watched through slatted fingers. It was impossible to look away. Yet the scene is so dark and empty. The bandages are painstakingly unwrapped. The woman is beautiful with blonde hair. I felt my shoulders relax as relief poured though my body. But wait…she is upset. Everyone is so sorry that the operation did not go well. I became confused. She looked fine. Then the camera zooms in on the doctor’s face which had previously been hidden by the nurse’s back. His face is totally deformed with a pig like nose, bulging cheeks and twisted eyes.
I screamed and ran for my life, out of the living room into the hallway.
The tinkling music was back. It permeated the house, in my bedroom; in the bathroom … I was trapped in THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
— Jessica B.