Mayberry, DOA



"Tonight's delicious tale begins - here - in a small town that squats idly upon State Road 54 in a nondescript corner of North Carolina," says a dark-haired man in a gray, shark-skin suit. The man stands before a turn-of-the-century home with fresh, white clapboard siding and a corrugated tin roof.

"Inside this unassuming home, there is a distinctive smell of fear. And for the three who live here, the setting of a small town sun will bring a night of terror - a night that could only have come from - The Twilight Zone."

Bee Taylor slammed the kitchen window shut with a sharp thud. Nearly dusk, and she prayed the two-penny nails would hold tight.

"Andy! We'll have to make do with the batteries we have! I can't find any more!"

Upstairs, Bee's nephew, Sheriff Andy Taylor pounded the last two nails into his son's bedroom window. "Now, Opie, you be sure this winder stays shut, you hear me? Don't you go openin' it, now, no matter what nasty sounds you hear a goin' on."

Opie Taylor nodded, his uneven thatch of bright red hair shining in the flickering oil lamp's glow. Shadows danced on the peeling wallpaper, animating ancient clowns into hideous displays of terpsichore.

"We gonna be okay, pa?" the boy asked, following his tall father down the stairs and into the fireless living room. "We ain't gonna get eaten like Miss Crump, are we? Barney says that -"

Andy shook his head and knelt down beside his son. "Barney doesn't understand what is really going on," he explained. "Son, things around Mayberry ain't like they used to be. I know it's tough to swallow, but it doesn't have to mean we cain't live our lives as normal as possible. Barney's a bit high strung…."

"High strung?" Bee repeated, laughing as she strung well-worn strands of garlic around the nailed windows. "Barney's a little more than high strung, Andy. Now help me with these crosses, won't you? Opie, you go wash your hands. It's nearly time for supper."

The boy dashed back up the stairs while his father and aunt finished the ritual dressing of the house.

"Opie's right, Andy," Bee said after Opie was out of earshot. "Things are getting worse. Why Clara told me that last night one of the Darlings disappeared. You know how careful they are, Andy. And last month it was Howard Sprague! Maybe we should talk about moving again, Andy. I really think we should talk about it."

Taylor dropped the last of the wooden crosses and offered his distraught aunt a warm hug. "Now, Aunt Bee, we've been all through this. Mayberry is our home, and I'm the sheriff, I have to stay! Besides, you know that no one's made it out in one piece. Don't you remember Juanita from the diner? Golly gee, she looked like a half-carved turkey three days after Thanksgiving when we found her!"

Bee began to cry. "I know it! I know! But Andy, is that all we are now? Food? Dear me!" A buzzer sounded in the kitchen. "Oh dear, there's the roast. I'd better get it. Andy, you wash up, too."

Darkness had nearly fallen outside, and Bee jumped when the front bell sounded.

"Bee, you stay put!" the sheriff ordered, opening the coat closet and removing a 12-guage shotgun filled with silver shot. "Go on into the kitchen now! You go on. It could be one o' them."

Bee shuddered, but backed into the swinging doors, disappearing into the warm kitchen.

The bell sounded once more, a frantic clanging sound that chilled the seasoned law officer. "Who is it?" he called, cocking the shotgun.

Wind blew past the porch, whistling a familiar tune.

"Looky here! I'm not afraid to shoot! You get back now!"

"Andy!" a high pitched voice called from the other side of the door. "Andy, help me! They're out here, Ange! Ah, come on, Ange! Please!"

Barney. Barney Fife was outside, begging for help.

Taylor shut his eyes tightly, trying to think. He'd known Barney since they were kids, grown up with him, and now they'd served the town of Mayberry for nearly ten years. "Barn?" he called, trying to make sure the voice really belonged to Fife. So many people had been fooled before. So many who were now dead.

"Andy!" the voice screamed. "For God's sake, Andy! Hellllllpppppp!"

Taylor unfastened the locks as quickly as he could as flung the door open.


Darkness. Darkness and a high pitched whistling upon the night wind.

"Pa?" Opie's quiet voice called from the sheriff's elbow. "Pa, was that Barney?"

Taylor's heart thumped wildly in his chest, but he spoke calmly to his child. "It was just the wind, son. Just wind."

"Supper!" Bee called from the kitchen, emerging with a large covered plate. "Opie, are those hands clean?"

Opie nodded. "Yes, Ma'am," he said, waving both hands and sidling up to the dining table. With a small bow, he pulled out a chair for his aunt.

"Thank-you, Opie. How sweet of you."

"I figure it's what Miss Crump would-a wanted. Is this her thigh or her back, Aunt Bee?"

"Well, I figured since this is a special occasion. It's being two years now since we were turned into zombies, that we should celebrate."

She pulled the cover from the steaming plate, revealing the roasted head of a woman, dark matted hair sizzling.

Andy laughed, rubbing his hands gleefully. "That looks gooooo-ood!" he said happily. "You know, Bee, it shore was a good idea you had about puttin' up the garlic and stuff to keep out those greedy vampires! Lord all mighty, they are pigs!"

All three laughed heartily, and reached for their forks, stabbing into the resilient flesh that had once been Helen Crump.

As they feast upon the woman who had once taught Opie long division, a man of medium height steps into the room. His gray suit glitters in the meager light afforded by the oil lamps. The trio of zombies, once known as the Taylor family, scarcely notice his arrival.

"Small towns all across America greet us with small smiles and questioning glares. The next time you stumble upon a town such as this, you . . . "

"Hey, Rod! Come on in, buddy! We're about to have dessert!"

Serling turns around, surprise crossing his dark features, his omnipresent cigarette dangling from his right hand. "Excuse me?" he asks.

Andy Taylor rises and crosses to stand just behind the man.

"You know, Rod! Dessert! And after that, we thought we'd all sit around the parlor and sing a little music. Come on now! We won't take no for an answer!"

Serling shakes his head, pointing to the camera. "Andy, now's not a good time."

Taylor's smile grows thin and flat. "Now, Rod. We're hungry now."

Serling steps backward, shouting something at the producer, who fails to respond. He dashes toward idle cameras, blood-stained and blind. "No!" he screams as Aunt Bee and Opie advance toward him, their once human eyes now vacant as death, and their mouths open.

"It's time for dessert!" Taylor shouts gleefully, knocking Serling over the head with his guitar. "I told you, Rod. We won't take no for an answer."

As the man lies dying, the trio lick their lips.

And outside, leaping in the damp grass like a deranged rabbit, a small, spry man named Ernest T. Bass sings triumphantly, "Welcome to the Twilight Zone, Rod! He-hyuh! Yep! The Twilight Zone!"

The End