The Ray Bradbury Theater

Season 4 Episode 9

To the Chicago Abyss

Aired Unknown Sep 22, 1989 on USA

Episode Recap

, and the Old Man talks off candy bars, (talks of)

In the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, the survivors pick their way through the ruined cities. Among them is the Old Man, who notices a woman in a park knitting. He approaches and talks about her wool, which is rare, but she runs away in terror. The Old Man spots a young man smoking and tries to talk about cigarettes from before the holocaust, and then describes candy bars and fruit. The young man warns that the police will arrest anyone discussing the old days, but when the Old Man refuses to stop, the young man beats him and runs off, crying.

A Stranger steps out of the shadows and tells the Old Man he's a fool for speaking publicly. He takes the Old Man to the basement of his apartment and introduces him to his wife. They offer him food and wine, and share a toast. The Stranger wants the Old Man to provide his memories so they can help rebuild. He wonders why the Old Man speaks of his memories so publicly, and the Old Man admits that he remembers movies as a child. They're interrupted when the police arrive. The Stranger and his wife hide the Old Man and then speak with the police, who offer a reward of a week's rations. The Stranger insists that there's no one else there and the police leave. The Old Man emerges and wonders why they didn't claim the reward, and the Stranger says he'll learn soon enough. He then tells his wife to assemble the other residents and asks the Old Man to tell them the gospel of his memories all at one time.

Once everyone has assembled in the apartment, the Old Man talks of the old days, and how he realized that he could offer the world his memories because they were forgetting everything that had come before. He explains that the more he spoke of what he remembered, the more he remembered. The Old Man admits that he only remembers trivia, and that he leaves memories of technology and literature to others, but insists that his memories are just as important if they are to rebuild. He tells them to rebel against those who would restrict remembrance.

One of the residents slips away and sells the Old Man's location to the police. They barge in and the Stranger gets the Old Man out through a hidden passage. In the alley beyond, he gives the Old Man a one-way ticket to the Chicago Abyss, the crater where a bomb struck the city. There are some survivors living there, and they need the Old Man's memories. The Stranger tells the Old Man to forget him, and to avoid speaking of what he remembers until he gets to the Chicago Abyss. He assures the Old Man that the apartment residents will remember what he said. As he prepares to go, the Old Man wonders why the Stranger helped him. The Stranger admits that he wanted to remember, but that he couldn't. They share a final embrace and the Old Man leaves.

On the train, the Old Man walks down the aisles and tries to avoid speaking of what he remembers. However, when he sees a young boy, Joseph, he can't resist, and starts telling a tale of once upon a time…