Narrator: You're looking at Act One, Scene One, of a nightmare, one not restricted to witching hours or dark, rain swept nights. Professor Walter Jameson, popular beyond words, who talks of the past as if it were the present, who conjures up the dead as if they were alive. In the view of this man, Professor Samuel Kittridge, Walter Jameson has access to knowledge that couldn't come out of a volume of history, but rather from a book on black magic, which is to say that this nightmare begins at noon.
Prof. Walter Jameson: You're a PhD.
Susanna Kittridge: Not yet, I'm not! There's a little matter of an examination, remember?
Prof. Walter Jameson: A technicality. Besides, you're going to be a housewife.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: The devil she is!! I'm giving you my daughter's hand, not her brain! She's gonna get that PhD if I…
Prof. Walter Jameson: If I have to spank her, I know. Don't tell me you're the cook again tonight?!
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Indeed, and why not?
Prof. Walter Jameson: Well, I think it's time I tried Susanna's cooking.
Susanna Kittridge: Don't worry, you will.
Prof. Walter Jameson: What have you got there?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: A book of photographs taken by a fellow named Matthew Brady during the time of the Civil War.
Prof. Walter Jameson: What is it? You look as though you'd seen a ghost.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Maybe I have. Walter...was your grandfather in the Civil War by chance?
Prof. Walter Jameson: No.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Then I'd say we have something of a mystery here.
Prof. Walter Jameson: How so?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: You made me curious about this Major Skelton today. I thought it would be interesting to see what he looked like. So I went through my Brady pictures, not really expecting to find anything. These are three of Sherman's staff officers. The man sitting at the table is identified as a Major Hugh Skelton. (Jameson looks at the photo - it is himself) That photograph was taken almost one hundred years ago.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: You shouldn't have kept that ring, it's a dead giveaway.
Prof. Walter Jameson: What are you getting at, Sam?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Oh come now, Walter! You know exactly what I'm getting at!
Prof. Walter Jameson: You're joking! Just because I happen to look like a man in a photograph?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: And happen to be wearing the same ring and happen to have the same small mole on the left side of your face? Walter, you and I have been very close for twelve years. Tell me the truth... you are that man in the photograph, aren't you?
Prof. Walter Jameson: (very slow response) Yes.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: (feels his forehead, sits down) I've suspected a long time... but it seemed... fantastic.
Prof. Walter Jameson: Mmmm. It is.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: (weakly) Yes...How old...are you, Walter?
Prof. Walter Jameson: You wouldn't believe me.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: I'll believe anything now.
Prof. Walter Jameson: (standing next to statue of Plato) Let's just say I'm old enough to have known this gentleman personally.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Plato?! But that was two thousand years ago!
Prof. Walter Jameson: I knew you wouldn't believe me.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: It isn't that... it's just... two... thousand... years... How, Walter? How?! In heaven's name, Walter, this is what mankind has been dreaming of!
Prof. Walter Jameson: Oh, come now, Sam.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: (crying a bit) Tell me the secret!
Prof. Walter Jameson: I can't tell you the secret, Sam, because I don't know it myself. I was like you, Sam. Afraid of death. I thought of all the things that a man had to know, in the miserable few years a man had to know them, and it seemed senseless. Every night I dreamed as you dream, of immortality...only if a man lived forever, I thought, would there be any point in living at all. I talked to priests, philosophers...Then one day, I met an alchemist and told him these things. He said he could grant my wish but that it would cost a great deal of money. I was desperate... I paid him his money and submitted to his experiments. I remember very little about it. I lay in a coma for many weeks and when I revived, I was alone. The alchemist had disappeared.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Go on...
Prof. Walter Jameson: There's really very little more to tell. I thought that the experiment had failed because I didn't feel any differently. But then, I saw my wife and my children aging, my friends dying. This was something I hadn't considered, you see.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: But surely there's some answer to that problem.
Prof. Walter Jameson: Is there? Think about it! If I tell you that somehow I can stop you from aging? At thirty? You watch everyone around you grow old. At seventy? Do you want to live forever, the way you are now? Old, sick?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: It's better than dying.
Prof. Walter Jameson: No. You're wrong, Sam. I was wrong. It's death that gives this world its point. We love a rose because we know it will soon be gone. Whoever loved a stone?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: I'm not a rose! I'm not a stone! I'm a man! Very old. And very frightened.
Prof. Walter Jameson: Of death?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Yes, of death!
Prof. Walter Jameson: You're a fool, Sam. I want to die.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Then why don't you?
Prof. Walter Jameson: Because I'm a coward. I haven't changed, you see. I was a coward then, I'm a coward now. I'm tired of living. In my desk, I have a revolver and every night I take it out and pray for the courage to pull the trigger, but I can't.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: You mean to say that you've survived over two-thousand years without an accident? Without being wounded?
Prof. Walter Jameson: Some people are lucky that way. They go through life never breaking a bone or seeing the inside of a hospital. Oh, I've been close to death many times. But never close enough.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: Thank you.
Prof. Walter Jameson: For what?
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: I thought if a man lived forever, he'd grow wiser. But that isn't true, is it?
Prof. Walter Jameson: You just go on living, that's all.
Prof. Samuel Kittridge: I'll tell her!!
Prof. Walter Jameson: She won't believe you. Nobody would. You won't believe it yourself by tomorrow morning.
Laurette Bowen: Tommy, it's wrong. You can't go on hurting people … (she shoots him)
Narrator: Last stop on a long journey, as yet another human being returns to the vast nothingness that is the beginning and into the dust that is always the end.