Twilight Zone Tuesday – Twenty Two

Twenty Two


Liz Powell – Barbara Nichols
Nurse in Morgue – Arline Martel (Credited as: Arlene Sax)
Barney Kamener – Fredd Wayne
The Doctor – Jonathan Harris
Day Nurse – Mary Adams
Night Nurse – Norma Connolly

Trigger Warnings:

Spoiler Tidbit

A blonde woman is sleeping restlessly, clutching a Raggedy Ann looking doll. A clock is ticking very loudly. She reaches for a glass of water but it slips out of her hand and breaks on the floor. There are footsteps outside of her door but they don’t stop or come in. She’s very sweaty and looks terrified. As she leaves her hospital room she sees the elevators at the end of the hall close. A nurse is in them. Her nightgown is a little weird for a hospital. It’s a regular, silky  nightgown, not a hospital gown. She watches the dial move down to the basement then hits the call button to bring it back to her floor (the 3rd floor, in case you were wondering). Whatever is in the basement must be cold because she starts shivering. She turns a corner to see Room Twenty Two, The Morgue. As she stares at them, the doors are opened by a nurse, who says, “Room for one more, honey”. This freaks the woman out and she screams and runs away.

This is Miss Liz Powell. She’s a professional dancer and she’s in the hospital as a result of overwork and nervous fatigue. And at this moment we have just finished walking with her in a nightmare. In a moment she’ll wake up and we’ll remain at her side. The problem here is that both Miss Powell and you will reach a point where it might be difficult to decide which is reality and which is nightmare. A problem uncommon perhaps but rather peculiar to the Twilight Zone.

I’m thinking by peculiar Rod means specifically which was its original meaning. Because I would think everything in the Twilight Zone would be peculiar-strange. And I noticed he seems to go by a word’s older meaning. Or hell, if he can’t find a word he’ll just make one up. Well, now that Mr. Serling has made us feel like stalkers, let’s continue.

A man in a suit and glasses straightens himself up before knocking on the door and entering the room. He asks how Liz is doing, calling her ‘Kitten’. She asks if he got lost. She has a very strong Brooklyn accent. He tells her that she’s looking great and she says that it’s been awhile between talks. He brought her a present which is a picture of…herself? He says they’ll get it blown up and put it in front of the Chi-Chi when she opens there. Ok, so I’m guessing that Barney is her agent or manager. She asks where he’s been and he says that hospitals depress him. She says that he ought to try being in one flat on your back for several weeks and the only time it’s not depressing is when it’s visiting hours. Well, not depressing if someone visits, that is.

He chuckles nervously and says what a mind she has. Liz says that’s what he thinks is wrong with her, isn’t it. Her mind. That maybe Barney thinks she left it in a bus station or something. He says there’s obviously something wrong if she keeps talking ‘nutsy’. Yes, because it’s so weird to be depressed after being in the hospital with no visitors. How weird! Liz says she was counting on Barney to believe her and when he didn’t show up she thought he’d dropped her. She says he has to believe her, he’s the only one. Which is a little sad, actually.

Liz insists that they’re not dreams, that they happen just like she says they happen. Barney walks a little ways away and starts to nervously polish his glasses. He says, “I know, Kitten, I know” but he’s obviously doing it to placate her and she knows it. After she says this the door opens and the Doctor comes in, telling Liz that she’s looking pretty as ever. Liz looks very annoyed. He and Barney introduce themselves to each other. Then the Doctor makes a creepy ass ‘joke’ about Liz “making him wish he weren’t an old doctor but a young intern”. Ew. He and Barney have a chuckle over that. Liz covers her ears and says he must be great at funerals, Laughing Boy.

The Doctor says, “We’re a little feisty today, aren’t we?” and looks annoyed. Liz says “We” are not feisty, “We’re” sick and tired of people coming in to peek at her every two seconds like “we’re” a freak or something. She tells them to get off the dime because there’s nothing wrong with her. The Doctor agrees and says she’s in perfect shape, just a little overtired and overworked. He supposes a dancer’s life isn’t the easiest. If she’s jut overtired and overworked then why is she in the hospital? I think I’d rather recuperate at a nice spa or resort. And it would probably be cheaper, too.

Barney says Liz’s talent makes it look easy. That he’s been her agent for 12 years and she’s the best stripper he’s ever seen. She corrects him and says she’s a dancer. This makes Doctor Giggles giggle some more. Liz asks what’s it going to be tonight? Dreams and Freud? He says she doesn’t seem interested in dreams because she keeps rejecting the fact that her ‘delusion’ is a dream. She says you know it. I notice that when he’s speaking directly to her instead of over her to Barney or in the “We” sense he looks and sounds irritated. He says he doesn’t know it. He knows the reverse. He says it is a dream. Oh, well then, problem solved, right Doc?

Doctor Giggles runs through the ‘dream’ again. It’s exactly what I narrated in the first paragraph. Except he’s really creepy sounding. He’s got a very “Look into my eyes” voice going on. In all of his detailing it obviously doesn’t strike Doctor Giggles as strange that Liz would know exactly how to get to the Morgue (ok, that might be easy since they’re usually in the basement, at least in movies) but it also doesn’t strike him as strange that she knows the Morgue is door Twenty Two. Which, for it being the only door down there Twenty Two is kind of a weird number. Liz breaks in and says that’s exactly what the nurse says. She says, “Room for one more, honey” and points to the Morgue. Doctor Giggles asks Barney if that isn’t a very strange dream. Barney says “it’s a weirdo, Doc!” So I’m guessing this is the first that Barney is hearing of the dream.

Liz insists that it isn’t a dream. Doctor Giggles says that Liz believes it’s one of his nurses. She corrects him saying that she doesn’t know if it’s one of his or not. Liz tells him to bring her in there and she would recognize her. Doctor Giggles says, very well (we’ll humour the hysterical girl). Apparently he’s been waiting for this because he whips aside a curtain to reveal a nurse. Not the one Liz has been seeing. Which makes me wonder how long that poor woman has been standing there. He says she’s the night nurse assigned to the basement. Then he adds (rather snippily) that she’s the only nurse assigned to that floor. He orders Liz to look at her then asks sarcastically if that’s Liz’s phantom lady. Liz says no and describes the woman that she’s seen. Doctor Creepy says that even Liz has to admit that if it’s not the nurse she saw then it must be a dream.

Liz says no, she knows what she saw and she knows what she did. Which sounds weird but I’m guessing she means her actions in the ‘dream’. Doctor Creepy wants to try something different. The Doctor wants her to try changing the actions of her ‘dream’ since it always happens in such a specific order. He tells her to try not reaching for the glass to see if breaking the routine of the dream will stop it from happening. Barney is all for this idea. It’s “groovy”. Liz tries to get Barney to tell the Doctor that the same dream six nights in a row means something. Doctor Creepy says that with her being overtired and overworked that nightmares are not uncommon.

Barney doesn’t care. He’s happy to see Liz looking beautiful again and tries to kiss her cheek. She tells him thanks a bunch. That he couldn’t boost morale if it weighed a quarter of a pound. Then she tells him to beat it.After Barney leaves Doctor Creepy goes to the foot of her bed and tells her again to try not to repeat the actions of the dream. He’s a jerk but that does make sense. Whether it’s a dream or not. He tells Liz that “We’re on our way to recovery”. Liz snarks back, “We’re just delighted we feel that way.” I do like her.

Later that night Liz gasps awake. She starts to reach for the glass of water but stops herself. So she lights a cigarette instead. When she puts the lighter back it falls on the floor. As she bends to retrieve it she knocks over the glass and it breaks. The rest of the ‘dream’ plays out the same. Although I think I would have tried changing a different part. But maybe the point is that she couldn’t. Anyways, it ends the same. With her standing in front of Room Twenty Two – The Morgue, and the nurse saying “Room for one more, honey”.

The next shot is of her freaking out in bed and they’re giving her an injection of something. I’m guessing a tranquilizer. After Liz falls asleep the nurse joins the doctor by the nurse’s station. The doctor looks perturbed and says something’s odd. The nurse asks what he means and he describes Liz’s dream to her. It’s just now striking him odd that Liz knows the room number even though she’s never been there. They dramatically puzzle on this for a minute.

Liz seems to be ok now, she’s packing up and ready to leave. Barney’s waiting downstairs for her. Doctor Creepy offers to carry her suitcase but before he lets her leave he asks for a postcard from Miami Beach and gives her another lecture on “They were only dreams”. Buuuut, he can’t let her leave without being creepy one more time. he says h doesn’t want to see her back at the hospital, the next time he sees her he hopes will be a ringside seat and he’d like a subtle wink. Ew and double ew.

It’s been awhile since I’ve used this

The next scene is an airport The counter agent tells her where Area C is, and that Flight Twenty Two will be loading soon. This gives her pause and the agent asks if anything is wrong. She says nothing but goes to a window to think to herself for a minute. She says it’s that crazy feeling. She’s thirsty, She says it’s the same feeling she had in the dream but she knows she’s awake. She hears the clock ticking loudly then runs into a lady, knocking the absurdly large vase out of her hand. It shatters on the floor. Liz screams but the lay just shrugs and walks away. Liz makes her way out to the boarding gate, clutching her stuffed tiger. She makes her way up the stairs where a flight attendant greets her with “Room for one more, honey”. It’s the same woman.

Liz (understandably) freaks out and screams and runs back into the airport. The plane starts up and the flight attendant closes the door with a strange smile on her face. Liz is inside the airport being calmed down by two agents. She’s repeating to herself that it couldn’t be a dream. As she stares out the window the airplane explodes.

Miss Elizabeth Powell. Profession – Dancer. Hospital diagnosis: acute anxiety brought on by overwork and fatigue. Prognosis? Witch care and rest she’ll probably recover. But the cure to some nightmares is not to be found in known medical journals. You look for it under “Potions for Bad Dreams” to be found in the Twilight Zone.

This story is a little different. It doesn’t come from one of the usual stable of writers. It was adapted from a book called ‘Famous Ghost Stories’. If I figure out which one I’ll try and link it here. Since this is actually a fairly common premonitory type of story it will probably be hard to track down. Barbara Nichols is awesome as Liz, sassy but very sympathetic. She does the terror well. Arlene Martel is beautiful in this episode as the mystery woman. She also shows up in the episode ‘What You Need‘ looking much less sinister.

I always wondered about the ending. Was the flight attendant trying to warn her? And, if so, why only her? Definitely in my Twilight Zone top ten. Or twenty two.

The book has been found thanks to Brian Bixby! I could not locate it on Goodreads but here is a link to it on Amazon – Famous Ghost Stories by Bennet Cerf 

4 thoughts on “Twilight Zone Tuesday – Twenty Two

  1. I can probably give you the source: Famous Ghost Stories, edited by Bennett Cerf (1944). The book is mostly a compilation of what it says, such stories as “The Haunted and the Haunters, or, The House and the Brain” by Bulwer-Lytton. But the last chapter is Cerf recounting “The Current Crop of Ghost Stories,” and the very first story he tells is of a young woman who keeps running into people telling her there is room for one more . . . which scares her into not entering an elevator that crashes.
    And yes, I’m looking at the very book as I write this.

    1. Awesome! Thank you! I’ll add it to the post. It does seem the most likely. I think I did look at that one briefly on Goodreads but dismissed it because of the fiction stories. I assumed it would be more of a ‘true’ ghost story book. The story you’re talking about does sound like the inspiration for Twenty Two. I will add it to the post. Thanks again!

      I believe E.F. Benson wrote a similar story as well, called ‘The Bus Conductor’. But yours sounds more likely as the Benson story was a man and looking out of a window at a hearse. Then when he’s about to get on a bus the driver says something similar and he doesn’t get on. There’s a pretty good YouTube reading of it:

      1. GracieKat, YOU HIT PAYDIRT! Cerf’s short piece is derived from Benson’s story! So says Wikipedia (see E.F. Benson entry), and they are right. The protagonist in Cerf’s story keeps seeing a hearse with a driver saying “Just one more!” The two differences are that the Cerf protagonist is female (thus linking it to Twilight Zone), and she’s scared off an elevator.

        Ironically, there IS an E.F. Benson story in Cerf’s collection, “The Man Who Went Too Far.” Benson died before the Cerf collection was published, so he couldn’t have appreciated the joke of the collection having TWO of his stories, in effect, even if one was a brief distorted retelling.

        By the way, my own favorite E.F. Benson story has to be “The Room in the Tower.”

        1. That’s awesome! I love ‘The Room in the Tower’. There’s some very god YouTube readings f The Room in the Tower, Mrs. Amworth and Mr. Tilly’s Seance, a couple others of his that I like as well.

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