I know that the whole idea behind the Tale Weaver prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie is to write a tale of fiction. But I’m going to bend the rules a little with my response today.
As soon as I saw the image above, I was transported back almost 59 years to an American TV show called The Twilight Zone. On November 20, 1959, “Time Enough at Last,” the eighth episode of season one of that anthology series, was aired.
The story of the episode revolved around Henry Bemis, played by actor Burgess Meredith. Bemis was a bookish little man with thick, horn-rimmed glasses who wanted only one thing out of life — the time to read. Reading was his only passion in an otherwise mundane existence. But between his shrewish wife, who deemed reading silly, and his boss at the bank, who was interested only in efficiency, Bemis rarely had the opportunity or the time to read.
Still, Bemis managed to sneak down to the vault to read each day during his lunch hour. But one particular day, there was an enormous explosion outside the bank that violently shook the vault, knocking Bemis unconscious.
After regaining consciousness and recovering the thick glasses he needed to see anything, Bemis emerged from the vault to find the bank demolished and everyone in it dead. Leaving the bank, he saw that the entire city had been destroyed. He realized that a nuclear war had devastated the planet, but that his being in the vault had saved him.
Bemis found himself totally alone and was about to take his own life when he discovered the ruins of the public library in the distance. The books in the library were still intact and readable. He gazed upon a huge fallen face of a clock and realized that he had all the time in the world to read his beloved books without interruption.
Bemis looked forward to reading for years to come. But as he bent down to pick up the first book, he stumbled, and his glasses, that he was virtually blind without, fell off and shattered. In shock, he picked up the broken remains of the glasses and said, “That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all. There was time now. There was all the time I needed. It’s not fair. It’s not fair.” Bemis burst into tears, surrounded by books he would now never be able to read.
At the end of the episode, host Rod Serling recites a voice over:
“The best laid plans of mice and men — and Henry Bemis — the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis … in the Twilight Zone”