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STORY OUTLINE, dated May 16, 1967
report & analysis by Dave Eversole

TEASER

In his quarters on the Enterprise, James Kirk stares at a photograph of a beautiful young woman. An inscription on the picture reads: "Soon, darling--then forever." A knock (Sturgeon’s word) at the door. Kirk hastily turns the photo face-down as McCoy enters.

Conversation between the two Starfleet officers reveals that the Enterprise is approaching the planet Timshel, which has, for more than two years, shut its borders to outsiders. "Nobody ever comes back from Timshel," McCoy gloomily announces. Indeed, anyone beaming down to the planet inexplicably resigns his Starfleet commission, applies to become a permanent citizen of Timshel and is never heard from again. Danielle "Dannie" Du Molin, the beautiful woman in the photograph, Kirk’s former fiancée, was one of the ones who beamed down and stayed.

The Enterprise is there to find out why. Kirk will beam down and, with the help of Marouk, a native he met when he first visited the planet years before any of the disappearances began, will attempt to unravel the mystery. The Enterprise will remain outside orbit, and will "phase maneuver" (constantly jump in and out of warp) to avoid detection. Kirk wears a recording/communications device disguised as a decorative badge on his Timshel clothing. It will transmit data in second-long bursts each time the Enterprise comes out of warp.

Kirk leaves for the transporter room as McCoy contemplates Danielle Du Moline’s inscription, "Soon, darling--then forever."

ACT ONE

The Enterprise falls out of warp (this phase maneuver makes everyone nauseous) and Kirk beams down to Timshel. He is met by Mareen, Marouk’s wife. She hastily whisks him away to the family’s apartment, where her and Marouk’s daughters, Tandy, fifteen, and Noelle, ten, wait. Mareen barely sneaks Kirk past a policeman. Kirk is puzzled. The Timshel police are known for being the most fair and tolerant police officers in the galaxy.

Marouk, a warm, intelligent man, arrives home and Kirk is full of questions. There will be time for that later, Marouk says. Mareen takes Kirk to a room, opens the door and urges him inside.

Dannie Du Molin waits in the room.

On board the Enterprise, Spock and McCoy listen to the first recording from Kirk’s badge. Spock cannot understand why Kirk shut the device off when he entered the room with Dannie. McCoy, understandably, is amused at Spock.

Back in Dannie’s room, a rectangular bracelet on her arm begins to glow. She ignores Kirk’s questions and eagerly rushes to a couch, lies down, positions a small metal hood over her head. She explains that it is "payday," and she has worked hard. She whimpers with excitement as she places her bracelet against a socket in the hood. A bright flash of rosy light floods her face. Her expression changes to one of total ecstasy. She then slumps asleep, the glow fades. Kirk tries to waken her but cannot.

Kirk rushes from the room, yelling for Mareen, but gets no answer. Tandy, the fifteen-year-old, comes to see what the noise is about. She explains that people always sleep heavy for the first hour after payday. She can’t wait until she is sixteen and can get her own bracelet I. D. and start enjoying payday.

Tandy shows Kirk to his room.

A payday hood is attached to the headboard of his bed!

ACT TWO

The following morning, Marouk pages Kirk on a small speaker in his room. He informs him to leave all his weapons and other devices behind and to dress in the Timshel clothing left there for him. Kirk, who has slept on the floor, far away from the payday device, complies, but does take his badge from his tunic and places it on the waistband of the clothing left for him.

Marouk enters the room after Kirk has left and notes the spot on the tunic where the badge was formerly attached.

On the Enterprise, McCoy opines that the payday device is similar to experiments he has seen in which electrical stimulation of the midbrain caused deep sleep. Spock details him and Uhura to determine if such sleep can be caused by a transmitting device instead of an electrode inserted directly into the brain. Spock is worried, if his theory is correct, this payday device is more dangerous than even a "sun-buster" bomb. If his theory is correct, James Kirk may never return to the Enterprise.

Tandy and Noelle take Kirk on a tour of Timshel City, a wonderfully modern city with all conveniences. Yet all of the work is being done by hand, no automation. People work obsessively, barely speaking. "Muzak" plays indoors and out. Police are everywhere, their only job is to make sure people do not hurt themselves by overwork. Soon we learn that the people work only for the pleasure of "payday." There are no other pleasures--no theaters, no bars, no public amusements. The bracelets record the amount of work done, and payday is apportioned accordingly. We learn that Marouk is the Paymaster.

In a ceramic bowl factory, Kirk catches sight of Dannie with a wheelbarrow full of clay which she throws through a sieve. He leaves Marouk’s daughters and follows her outside where she shovels the wheelbarrow full of clay again. He confronts her. So this is the work she found so compelling that she broke off their engagement. Dannie won’t listen, tries to keep shoveling. Kirk grabs her wrist. A policeman approaches (a man Kirk remembers from an earlier visit as being a wise administrator) and demands to see Kirk’s I. D.

On the ship, the recorded sound of Kirk’s running feet galvanize Spock. He orders the phase maneuver once a minute so he can keep track of Kirk’s imminent peril. This is devastating for the crew, but it must be done. Spock, McCoy and Uhura, the wave transmission expert of the three of them, head for the transporter in case they need to beam down.

On Timshel, Kirk is cornered by the police officer. As he is about to engage the officer in fisticuffs, Marouk shows up and waves the officer away.

Marouk asks Kirk’s opinion of their "perfect society."

"Perfect insanity," Kirk retorts. Marouk assures him he will come to love it. Everyone does.

Spock, McCoy and Uhura materialize in a transporter sparkle. The instant they are fully solid, they and Kirk are struck by an immobility beam. Timshel police approach and disarm them all. Marouk takes Kirk’s recording badge. He stares at the four Enterprise officers. "You’re all going to love it here," he says.

ACT THREE

Kirk, McCoy and Uhura revive in Marouk’s apartment. Spock is already conscious. All are surrounded by police. Marouk informs them that they all must resign their commissions and Federation citizenship and remain on Timshel. Kirk, McCoy and Uhura laugh at this notion. But Spock slowly stands, stares at them and says, "It is the only logical thing to do."

Spock fills in Kirk (and the audience) on the background of "the Joy Machine," experiments on Terran rats wherein a stimulus was delivered via electrode to a pleasure center in the rat’s brain. When wired up with a pedal to push to deliver the stimulus, rats stayed at the pedal and pushed it constantly, ignoring food, water and lady rats, in favor of the pleasure. They stayed and pushed the pedal until they died of exhaustion.

But, Spock warns, when a Human subject is taken away from the pleasure, they turn into raving maniacs. That is why the payday device induces an hour of deep sleep after it is turned off. The sleep calms the subject, leaving them looking forward to the next payday.

Spock reveals that Marouk is behind the payday machine, and has built a projector powerful enough to turn on the Enterprise, enslaving all aboard. Marouk will fire a single stimulus bolt at the ship, then turn it off. For the crew, there will be an instant of ecstasy, followed by rage as the pleasure is taken away. They would tear each other apart, run amok through the vessel, all filled with rage. If Kirk does not publicly renounce his citizenship, that is.

Kirk finally gives in--he cannot allow his crew and ship to be destroyed. He, Spock, McCoy and Uhura sign the necessary paperwork, resigning their commissions and citizenship. The papers are beamed up to Sulu, who weeps when he reads them.

Kirk asks permission to record a farewell to his crew. This is granted. He delivers a moving speech, and concludes it with, "And don’t...forget to...feed my cat."

Sulu sits up straight. It is obviously code since Kirk doesn’t have a cat. He checks the master codebooks. It means "Disregard these orders, and continue those previous." So the Enterprise goes back to nauseating phase maneuvers and only picks up Muzak from Kirk’s badge now locked away in Marouk’s office safe.

Kirk asks that he and his crewmates not be subjected to the payday machine against their will. Marouk agrees as long as they don’t make trouble. Spock, McCoy and Uhura go off to attempt to study the Joy Machine, while Kirk, chagrined at his failings in getting his crew into this mess, goes for a walk. He encounters the administrator turned police officer and gives him a rousing Kirk speech, tries to convert him back to the man of pride and dignity he once was...to no avail.

Marouk witnesses this, and he and Kirk have a confrontation. Kirk demands to know how this all came about. Marouk explains that a brilliant doctor invented the device. The doctor, convinced that mankind needed guidance, created the device while Marouk was off-planet. Marouk does not like the device either, but if it is taken away, or turned off, the planet’s entire adult population would kill each other in rage. All in front of the innocent children. Kirk tells Marouk that the Federation might have to bring in a planet-buster bomb if all else fails. Marouk says that is exactly what he has been anticipating.

Kirk realizes that Marouk has manipulated him into taking action to put an end to the Joy Machine.

Kirk confers with the others. Spock and Uhura announce that they may have a way to shut down the master Timshel computer in charge of payday. But they will need the use of the Enterprise computers. If they could only get a message to the ship. Uhura brightens. Messages are her specialty. She volunteers to help Mareen who is assigned work programming the Muzak. Uhura takes down a guitar and plays. Kirk’s badge, in the safe, transmits this to the Enterprise. Sulu and Scotty note that the chords she plays correspond to dots and dashes. A code. Once decoded, Sulu cries, "Aye aye, sir!"

Uhura teases ten-year-old Noelle about who is the best scientist--Marouk or Spock. Noelle says her dad is, of course. Well then, Uhura wants to know, why doesn’t your dad know all the secrets of Kirk’s badge? Noelle runs, gets the badge from its hiding place and takes it to Marouk. As he examines it, we cut to the Enterprise where Sulu realizes their target is in range.

Scotty transports Marouk to the Enterprise.

ACT FOUR

Kirk now commands Timshel, and his ship is safe. Nothing will be done against it with Marouk onboard. Spock, McCoy and Uhura have worked out a plan to extricate Timshel from the payday machine. They think that the machine can shift the frequencies of all the Timshel brains. This way those addicted to the machine can continue to enjoy it, but to those who have never been under its influence--the Timshel children, any outsiders--these the machine will do nothing to but induce sleep.

It is tried out on Spock and works. He becomes ecstatic and then goes through withdrawal. But his brain pattern can be used for an example and a shift can be made. The children of Timshel will never have to worry about payday.

And we learn that Marouk has again conned Kirk. The machine has a limited range. It never could have reached and affected the Enterprise. Kirk denounces his old friend and turns away from him.

Tandy turns sixteen, and Mareen gives her her first payday. Tandy falls into a deep sleep, awakens and goes to Uhura. "It was nothing...nothing...nothing," Tandy cries. She can’t understand what all the fuss was a bout. Uhura assures her that there is nothing wrong with her.

Dannie Du Molin and Kirk talk. She wants to return to him, but the payday machine beckons inexorably. She weeps as she rushes to get her fix.

On the Enterprise, Spock, still somewhat under the effects of the payday machine, is "having fun." McCoy, Kirk and the others wonder if he will outgrow it.

 

You will note that my Act Four synopsis is much shorter than the other act write-ups. Well, even masters such as Sturgeon were not above technobabble solutions. Maybe the thing would have played better than it is written, but damn, is it mind-numbingly (payday pun intended) boring to read and comprehend.

Once again, as with many story outlines never produced, it has a pretty decent first three acts, with a technobabble deus ex machina to tidy things up.


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