Narrator: Her name is the S.S. Queen of Glasgow. Her registry: British. Gross tonnage: five thousand. Age: indeterminate. At this moment she's one day out of Liverpool, her destination New York. Duly recorded on this ship's log is the sailing time, course to destination, weather conditions, temperature, longitude and latitude. But what is never recorded in a log is the fear that washes over a deck like fog and ocean spray. Fear like the throbbing strokes of engine pistons, each like a heartbeat, parceling out every hour into breathless minutes of watching, waiting and dreading. For the year is 1942, and this particular ship has lost its convoy. It travels alone like an aged blind thing groping through the unfriendly dark, stalked by unseen periscopes of steel killers. Yes, the Queen of Glasgow is a frightened ship, and she carries with her a premonition of death.
Miss Stanley: Mr. Lanser, perhaps if you got some sleep.
Lanser: No, sleep wouldn't help me. I don't think I could get to sleep. I feel as if... as if... I'm in a nightmare. It's so strange. I feel as if there's disaster out there. Doom. We are being stalked. I know we are being stalked. There's a sub out there, a U-boat. I know. I know it's there. I know it.
Wilbur: And they're out there. God knows, they're out there. Waiting, like vultures.
Lanser: It's here! That's the U-boat out there! The U-boat's here! The U-boat's here! We've got to get out of here, everybody! We have got to leave this ship! Everybody, they're going to sink us! Don't you hear me? Have you all gone out of your minds, all of you? There's a U-boat here! It's going to sink us! What do I have to do to you? Do I have to grab you and put you on deck? Do I have to grab your bodily and put you into lifeboats? Do I have to knock you unconscious, all of you?!?
Mueller: I just, I just found it difficult to...
Lanser: To what?
Mueller: To reconcile the killing of men and women without any warning. Makes me wonder if we're not damned now.
Lanser: In the eyes of the British admiralty, we most certainly are.
Mueller: I mean, sir, in the eyes of God.
Lanser: Oh, you're not only a fool, Lieutenant, but also a religious fool, and perhaps a mystic at that. Suppose we are damned. What will happen then?
Mueller: I have had dreams about it. Perhaps there is a special kind of hell for people like us. Perhaps to be damned is to have a fate like the people on that ship, to suffer as they suffer and to die as they die.
Lanser: You are a mystic, Lieutenant.
Mueller: We'll ride the ghost of that ship every night. Every night, Herr Kapitan, for eternity. They could die only once, just once, but we could die a hundred million times. We ride the ghost of that ship every night. Every night for eternity.
Narrator: The S.S. Queen of Glasgow, heading for New York, and the time is 1942. For one man, it is always 1942, and this man will ride the ghost of that ship every night for eternity. This is what is meant by paying the fiddler. This is the comeuppance awaiting every man when the ledger of his life is opened and examined, the tally made, and then the reward or the penalty paid. And in the case of Carl Lanser, former Kapitan Leutnant, Navy of the Third Reich, this is the penalty. This is the justice meted out. This is judgment night in the Twilight Zone.
Nehemiah Persoff, ironically, is of Israeli descent.
This episode has British people drinking coffee (instead of their normal tea) because General Foods was the sponsor.
Sets constructed for the 1959 feature film The Wreck of the Mary Deare were used for this episode.