A series of illustrations created for the podcast, Thaddeus Ellenburg's Casual Friday for the episode Odyssey Into the Unknown: The In-Between Definitive Companion Vol. 1. It was inspired by a mutual love of the original run of The Twilight Zone. From Thaddeus Ellenburg:
“In a world of black and white, there is a region of gray. A sector beyond the senses, surreal and unseen by man. A realm that stretches into the seam of space and time. An area unconfined by consciousness or bound by blood. This is a place we control, with the flip of a switch and a turn of the dial. For the next thirty minutes, we provide the path and provisions, on an odyssey into the unknown. A course paved with terror and illuminated by knowledge. Place one fearful foot in front of the other, for a brief stroll through...The In-Between.”
“For the Betterment of Bitterman”
Season 1, Episode 7
First Aired Nov. 14, 1957
Walter J. Bitterman is a department store tycoon with a single area of interest: Money- And the procurement of more money. A miser who despises the poor and finds the meek a menace to economic efficiency. Mr. Bitterman begins every Friday morning with great relish- He heads downtown to his flagship store for an all-hands-on-deck inspection, and with much pleasure, lines up the sales girls on the floor and fires the one with the worst earnings. On this day, a young mother. Subsequently, an elderly tailor from menswear, with tailor's tape and scissors, gives the fired woman a somewhat cheap sterling silver thimble from a display case. Bitterman notices the exchange, and, with a measured tongue, the tailor assures his boss the thimble will gladly come from his pay. Bitterman is both amused and enraged by the gesture, and before leaving the store, he reminds them all why they're there: His wealth and wellbeing, veiled with a spirited monologue on consumerism and the tragedy of charity, with a side of nationalism. Mr. Bitterman returns to his estate in an affluent exurb where he retires to an underground vault and commits the weekend to counting his money. His favorite pastime. He fetishizes the process, piling bags of coins and stacks of cash by acquisition and liquidation, which he names off with considerable pride. "Buckley and Brown...Gilbertson's...Melling's Dress Shop, across from the bus terminal." Suddenly, Mr. Bitterman is shaken violently to the ground by a tremendous shock wave. He emerges to find the world decimated in a nuclear blast, and as the sole survivor, makes his way into the city. In a rubble-filled wasteland, Bitterman comes across the flattened remains of a pawn shop, where he spots a woman's hand, his former employee, sticking out from under some mangled debris, holding the silver thimble. With an arrogant chuckle, Mr. Bitterman picks up the thimble and heads to his store. He returns the notion to a charred display and finds himself in hysterics joking aloud about the unlikelihood of receiving an insurance return on the store. Suddenly, a large sign, labeled "Returns," and dangling by a mere cord, falls on Bitterman, killing him. And with Sorrels's closing narration, the camera booms up to the store's second-floor balcony where we see the hand of a male, the tailor, crushed by an entire staircase, holding a pair of scissors.
“The Thing About Abbottsborough”
Season 2, Episode 16
First Aired Dec. 18, 1958
It's a snowy Christmas Eve in an idyllic mid-Victorian town named Abbottsborough and a young woman, a school teacher, on the heels of a big gust of wind, drops her books and an apple outside the schoolhouse when she's hit with a sense of unease. While making her holiday rounds, she soon realizes that she has no recollection of a past or anything outside the town. Inside a house of considerable cheer, she sets the table for a large Christmas feast with the help of another woman - joyful, several years her senior - and questions the extravagantly extensive spread, unable to recall any of the expected guests or even cooking a single dish. The older woman laughs her off, then realizes she too can't place herself, and with the wind howling outside, is also overcome by the same peculiar feeling. The two women become conscious of the fact that they've never met before or even know one another’s name. The school teacher flees in a panic and, back outside in the street, encounters a student she's never seen before, let alone tutored, as the child’s mother broaches. Frightened and unable to find her home, the young woman returns to the front of the schoolhouse, where she bears another rogue gust of wind that knocks her to the ground—this time, burying her with snow as she lets out a blood-curdling scream. It's revealed that the town is nothing more than a Christmas Village in a present-day toy store window, with porcelain figurines posed throughout, and that the freak gusts of wind and snow are let in with customers casually entering and exiting the store; which is incidentally named Abbott's Toy Store. In the window, in front of the schoolhouse, we see a toppled over figurine that looks like the school teacher. The hand of a little girl stands it upright, and we find the figurine balancing a tower of books with an apple on top.
Season 3, Episode 4
First Aired Sept. 24, 1959
A farm, for all intents and purposes, belonging to a rural, religious society. A homestead, with chapel and a row of quaint quarters, each with a private vegetable garden and occupied by a single man and woman. While tending their crops, a haggard Micah and Alicia notice their neighbors in tears, giving their bassinet to another couple, who can hardly contain their glee. After the residents are called outside their cabins by three strange tones resounding from speakers in the church belfry where a bell should be, an unnamed Reverend, young and well-conditioned, distributes a single seed to each couple - more specifically, to each woman, placing it on their tongues (at least edited to convey as much) - and with lyrical praises, promises the people a bountiful harvest. That evening, while the rest of the farm sleeps, Micah watches the contained commotion of a baby’s delivery at the couple’s cabin with the bassinet, followed by a single curious chime from the belfry. The next morning, a gussied up Reverend delivers a sermon on duty in the face of free will to a congregation of filthy and fatigued. Micah notices Alicia discreetly and longingly admiring the new parents and their baby from across the room. At supper, everyone sits down to a banquet prepared from their gardens: Colorless mash and bizarre cubical green fruits from long pods like green beans. Micah notices his neighbors at the other end of the table without their baby and whimpering, unacknowledged by the others. The man comforts the woman, who becomes inconsolable and runs off from the table. The next day, with the three tones, the Reverend dispenses the seeds, pulled from a locked shed. Later that night, Alicia informs Micah that she’s with child, and the following morning, the two are presented with the bassinet from their now dejected neighbors - the woman lifeless, staring fixedly at the ground. After Alicia’s delivery, the Reverend arrives at the couple’s cabin and explains to them that their baby, now born, no longer belongs to them and is the stock of an anonymous “they,” the watchers. The Reverend refers to himself as an overseer, one of many, a sort of ageless shepherd who watches over the flock, and with eerie delight, expresses to the couple that it’s not their place to question the masters or their ways. The Reverend takes the baby outback and, following a “column of light” that illuminates the property with the sound of a shock warble, returns with empty arms. As the Reverend exits the cabin, Micah bolts by him for the shed and takes an axe to the padlock. A group of overseers wrestles him to the ground, and we see that they all look exactly like the Reverend. The door to the shed creeps open as Micah grapples with the overseers, and we see it filled with feed bags labeled, “Human: Earth. Hair: Blonde. Eyes: Blue.”
“No Strings Attached”
Season 3, Episode 36
First Aired May 19, 1960
Charlie is a down-and-out marionette street performer who's given a mystical, grinning puppet from the old country by a mysterious peddler. Despite not having strings, Charlie is amazed to find that the puppet can dance on its own, and chalks it up to the gear-filled tinkerings of a puppet master with a minor in clockmaking. Their act catches the eye of a club owner, and together the performer and puppet gain citywide notoriety with night-after-night of sold-out shows. As the performer's fame grows, so does the puppet. Literally. A couple of inches each night. Subsequently, Charlie begins shrinking and his hair thinning. He fears he's losing his mind when he doesn't recall a date with Eileen, his new steady. One night, while standing on a stool in front of his bathroom mirror, the performer notices a thin nylon string growing from his shoulder. (A terrifying scene with an equally eerie piece scored for harps by episode composer Hans Stockwell.) In the days that follow, Charlie finds freckles on his cheeks that won't rub off, and a sawdust residue from his arm brushing against some unfinished drywall in a building lobby. It isn't long after, that when the curtains open on the duo’s popular act, Charlie finds himself on stage as the marionette, being bounced about to an audience in stitches, courtesy of the puppet, smiling ear-to-ear- Now lifesize, flesh-toned, and with an adoring new fiancee blowing kisses from a front table.
“Reunion on The Queen Caroline”
Season 5, Episode 19
First Aired January 25, 1962
Martyn is a Royal navy man pulled from open waters by a sterling ocean liner plucked from the seas of a forgotten time. After being rehabilitated, given food and a change of clothes, he's introduced to Angela, the ship's director of passengers, who gives him free rein of the vessel's facilities and makes herself available should he need anything. While walking the decks, taking notice of the ship's bygone fashions and fixtures (oil lamps and ornate fabrics), Martyn runs into a passenger he knows, someone from his past, when he was younger- His father's business partner and family friend, Emerson Ellis. Martyn's memory is cloudy, but he recalls a lively retirement party for Emerson that was followed by an accident at his cottage on the lake, one from which Martyn doesn't remember Emerson recovering. A recollection to which Emerson responds, with a hearty and healthy thump on the chest, "Well, here I am." Similarly, that evening, Martyn bumps into a former professor from his old boarding school, on sabbatical with his wife, who's planted herself in the games room with the other ladies. Martyn remarks on the professor's youthful spirit and glow, given the last time he saw his formative taskmaster was nearly twenty years earlier, when the professor was in his late 70s and quite ill. Martyn's chance encounters continue: An old girlfriend he had heard was in an automobile accident, and a service mate killed in a training exercise. Then, finally, after walking into the ship's ballroom and finding a large party that seems to have manifested in a matter of moments after the navy man hears music and laughter from outside, Martyn finds, drinking and dancing, his entire crew of shipmates that were taken out in the same attack that found him in the water. Everything comes flooding back, and Martyn flees the ballroom in a panic. He's joined at the railing by Angela, who explains his rescue’s timely and personal nature, the fact that he's dead, and that the ship's final destination is the afterlife.
“Suffer Fools Gladly Not”
Season 6, Episode 23
First Aired March 14, 1963
Two astronauts, Erickson and Cmdr. O’Neal, crash land on an alien planet twelve million miles from Earth. Their mission? Follow a signal to locate and rescue a fellow astronaut, Mitchell, whose remote vitals read alive and well, despite being out of communication for two years. Navigator Mitchell also crash-landed on the distant planet during a scouting mission searching for the mineral salt after Earth’s inhabitants depleted their planet's rock salt deposits. Without the resources to repair their ship, Erickson and O’Neal forge through the planet’s vast interior and make their way across an arid desert landscape, contending with fluctuating seasons and ever-changing temprates with each mile they make. Barely managing the trek themselves, the two intrepid astronauts push on, conserving their transponder’s power. Before their instruments fail, the astronauts track the signal to an oasis sitting in a flat. And at its center- A sprawling, luxurious “ancient meets futuristic” resort spa with steaming salt baths in crater-shaped pools. It’s all very well-to-do- Natural yet chic. The only thing is, there’s not a soul in sight. Everything up and running and for the ready- But no clientele, no staff. It isn’t long after Erickson and O’Neal find Mitchell, reposed on a sort of salt block throne, claiming he’s the ruler of an invisible race. Dressed in bizarre regalia, Mitchell shows O’Neal the salt flats and speaks of the planet’s seasonal acceleration resulting in quicker and more extensive yields. “All the salt we could ever need, with plenty to share,” Mitchell famously pleas. “Share?” Commander O’Neal asks before an entire community of people appear out of thin air. The Martians, who have a human appearance, speak of their peaceful existence and invite Erickson and O’Neal to stay with them. They add that they're not interested in mining their deposits in any kind of cooperation with the people of Earth, as their reputation is that of a destructive nature, known for extracting planets across the universe to extinction. They also inform the astronauts that if they wish to leave instead, they will happily repair their ship. Torn between glory and duty, Erickson and O'Neal squabble with Mitchell, who refuses to leave the planet. There's a scuffle which leads to Mitchell killing Erickson with a rock. O'Neal restrains Mitchell but grows inexplicably tired and passes out from an unexplainable force. When he wakes, he finds Mitchell and himself outside the resort, cast out by the Martians and their ship unrepaired. "Without our ship rebuilt, we'll die out here," O’Neal begs. The Martians explain to the astronauts that the human race only knows conflict and will never be able to coexist with another race, let alone themselves.