Secret Doorways

Rod Serling said, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind.  You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.  You’ve just crossed over into… the Twilight Zone.”  This is a state of surrealism, where things that should not make sense seem to do so. When you arrive here, you are likely to encounter strange phenomenon and bizarre events.  The Twilight Zone is a mental state between reality and a world of fantasy, or an illusion that resides between light and shadow, and is somewhere between science and superstition.

The Twilight Zone featured a collection of tales which range from comic to tragic, they often had a wicked sense of humor and an unexpected twist.  They could be weird and scary, as they explored humanity’s hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices and paranormal situations.  Some of the shows were so spooky that they made people sleep with the light on after watching it.  Not everyone is aware that the Grateful Dead recorded the theme music to the revitalized TV series in 1985.  They worked with keyboardist Merle Saunders on the new main theme, which was a short dissonant burst of ‘space‘ ending in a variation of the original Twilight Zone theme.  Jerry Garcia once said, ‘Man, I live in the Twilight Zone’, and the Dead leaped at the chance to record their own version of the signature three-note motif that identified the show.  Mickey Hart took the lead for the Dead in the studio, and proved to have a gift for sound design.  However, just as they began, Mickey went into the hospital for back surgery, so he ordered that all the necessary equipment be set up in his room.  At first Ram Rod the Grateful Dead’s road manager vetoed this seeming insanity, but Mickey pleaded, ‘When I wake up, I want to go to work.’  The Demerol he’d gotten for his surgery proved to be aesthetically stimulating, and he produced music for the first four episodes from bed.

Robert Hunter wrote the screenplay for one of the 1986 episodes and he wrote a number of the episode introductions.  One segment that he wrote was titled, “The Devil’s Alphabet”, and this was based on a 1910 short story by Arthur Gray, “The Everlasting Club”.  The plot revolves around a group of Cambridge students who formed a fraternity of sorts, called the Devil’s Alphabet.  Each one of their names starts with a respective letter of the alphabet and they pledge themselves in blood, and wear special rings, and agree to always meet on the same day every year, after they graduate.  They toast each other with ‘high-blown words and revelry’.  After they graduate, life starts happening to the students who have now become men and as the years go by, one by one they start to die, either by their own hand or through a more sinister agent.  After the first man dies, his ghost shows up at the next meeting, alarming the others.  It seems like they are doomed to meet throughout eternity in the same room, as men or ghosts, in whatever form they happen to be when the annual day comes around.

The deaths accelerate, and finally only three men are left alive.  They no longer have a majority to dissolve the Devil’s Alphabet Society, so they can only attend and hope they live through the night.  After the meeting, two of the three are killed in what at first appears to be a carriage accident, but it is found out that it was deliberately done, by some dark agent, possibly the Devil.  The last living member shows up for the next meeting, and faces the ghostly figures of all the others.  He says that the Devil’s Alphabet Society was made for revelry, not the sullen silence that is happening now.  He asks for a show of hands to dissolve the group and he gets them.  He removes his ring, throwing it on the signed scroll, which bursts into flames.

This post was written for sammicoxwriter September 30, 2017 Weekend Writing prompt Secret Doorways.

11 thoughts on “Secret Doorways

    1. Thank you Michael. It was a very popular show both the early one with Rod Serling and the later one where the Dead did some of the music, however I missed a lot of episodes as I think it came on Saturday nights and I was out with my friends then.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I loved the original Twilight Zone series when I was younger. I wasn’t that into the later one, though, because my wife never liked spooky stories and we had two young kids at the time, so Fraggle Rock and Sesame Street were more the kind of shows we watched back in the mid-eighties. Good post. I didn’t realize that the Dead were involved in it in any way.

    Liked by 1 person

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