Television quiz programs with an aspect of having just staged a raid on Fort
Knox are very much in the news these days. Certainly the prizes to be won are
astronomical and the contestants scarcely less so. Step right up, little lady and
tell us why your eyes look so strange! What's that? You want us to read this
astounding science fantasy documentary by J. Anthony Ferlaine first? Well—perhaps
we should play it safe while the flying saucer folk are watching us!
by ... J. Anthony Ferlaine
There may be a town called Mars in Montana. But
little Mrs. Freda Dunny didn't come from there!
I watched Don Phillips, the
commercial announcer, out of the
corner of my eye. The camera in
front of me swung around and
lined up on my set.
"... And now, on with the
show," Phillips was saying. "And
here, ready to test your wits, is
your quizzing quiz master, Smiling
I smiled into the camera and
waited while the audience applauded.
The camera tally light went on
and the stage manager brought his
arm down and pointed at me.
"Good afternoon," I said into
the camera, "here we go again
with another half hour of fun and
prizes on television's newest, most
exciting, game, 'Parlor Quiz.' In a
moment I'll introduce you to our
first contestant. But first here is a
special message to you mothers ..."
The baby powder commercial
appeared on the monitor and I
walked over to the next set. They
had the first contestant lined up for
me. I smiled and took her card
from the floor man. She was a
middle-aged woman with a faded
print dress and old-style shoes. I
never saw the contestants until we
were on the air. They were screened
before the show by the staff. They
usually tried to pick contestants
who would make good show material—an
odd name or occupation—or
somebody with twenty kids.
Something of that nature.
I looked at the card for the tip
off. "Mrs. Freda Dunny," the card
said. "Ask her where she comes
I smiled at the contestant again
and took her by the hand. The
tally light went on again and I
grinned into the camera.
"Well, now, we're all set to go
... and our first contestant today
is this charming little lady right
here beside me. Mrs. Freda
Dunny." I looked at the card.
"How are you, Mrs. Dunny?"
"Fine! Just fine."
"All set to answer a lot of questions
and win a lot of prizes?"
"Oh, I'll win all right," said
Mrs. Dunny, smiling around at the
The audience tittered a bit at
the remark. I looked at the card
"Where are you from, Mrs.
"Mars!" said Mrs. Dunny.
"Mars!" I laughed, anticipating
the answer. "Mars, Montana? Mars,
"No, Mars! Up there," she said,
pointing up in the air. "The planet
Mars. The fourth planet out from
My assistant looked unhappy.
I smiled again, wondering what
the gag was. I decided to play
"Well, well," I said, "all the
way from Mars, eh? And how long
have you been on Earth, Mrs.
"Oh, about thirty or forty years.
I've been here nearly all my life.
Came here when I was a wee bit
of a girl."
"Well," I said, "you're practically
an Earthwoman by now,
aren't you?" The audience laughed.
"Do you plan on going back someday
or have you made up your
mind to stay here on Earth for the
rest of your days?"
"Oh, I'm just here for the invasion,"
said Mrs. Dunny. "When
that's over I'll probably go back
"Yes, the invasion of Earth. As
soon as enough of us are here we'll
"You mean there are others
"Oh, yes, there are several million
of us here in the United States
already—and more are on the
"There are only about a hundred
and seventy million people in the
United States, Mrs. Dunny," I said.
"If there are several million Martians
among us, one out of every
hundred would have to be a Martian."
"One out of every ten!" said
Mrs. Dunny. "That's what the boss
said just the other day. 'We're
getting pretty close to the number
we need to take over Earth.'"
"What do you need?" I asked.
"One to one? One Martian for
"Oh, no," said Mrs. Dunny,
"one Martian is worth ten Earthmen.
The only reason we're waiting
is we don't want any trouble."
"You don't look any different
from us Earth people, Mrs. Dunny.
How does one tell the difference
between a Martian and an Earthman
when one sees one?"
"Oh, we don't look any different,"
said Mrs. Dunny. "Some of
the kids don't even know they're
Martians. Most mothers don't tell
their children until they're grown-up.
And there are other children
who are never told because they
just don't develop their full powers."
"Oh, telepathy, thought control—that
sort of thing."
"You mean that Martians can
read people's thoughts?"
"Sure! It's no trouble at all. It's
very easy really, once you get the
hang of it."
"Can you read my mind?" I
"Sure!" said Mrs. Dunny, smiling
up at me. "That's why I said
that I'd know the answers. I'll be
able to read the answers from your
mind when you look at that sheet
"Now, that's hardly sporting, is
it, Mrs. Dunny?" I said, turning
to the camera. The audience
laughed. "Everybody else has to do
it the hard way and here you are
reading it from my mind."
"All's fair in love and war," said
"Tell me, Mrs. Dunny. Why are
you telling me about all this? Isn't
it supposed to be a secret?"
"I have my reasons," said Mrs.
Dunny. "Nobody believes me anyhow."
"Oh, I believe you, Mrs.
Dunny," I said gravely. "And now,
let's see how you do on the questions.
Are you ready?"
"Name the one and only mammal
that has the ability to fly," I
asked, reading from the script.
"A bat," she said.
"Right! Did you read that from
"Oh, yes, you're coming over
very clear!" said Mrs. Dunny.
"Try this one," I said. "A princess
is any daughter of a sovereign.
What is a princess royal?"
"The eldest daughter of a sovereign,"
"Correct! How about this one?
Is a Kodiak a kind of simple box
camera; a type of double-bowed
boat; or a type of Alaskan bear?"
"A bear," said Mrs. Dunny.
"Very good," I said. "That was a
hard one." I asked her seven more
questions and she got them all
right. None of the other contestants
even came close to her score,
so I wound up giving her the gas
range and a lot of other smaller
After we were off the air I followed
the audience out into the
hall. Mrs. Dunny was walking towards
the lobby with an old paper
shopping bag under her arm. An
attendant was following her with
an armful of prizes.
I caught up with her before she
reached the door.
"Mrs. Dunny," I said, and she
turned around. "I want to talk to
"When do I get the gas stove?"
"Your local dealer will send it
to you in a few days. Did you give
them your address?"
"Yes, I gave it to them. My
Philadelphia address, that is. I
don't even remember my address
at home any more."
"Come, now, Mrs. Dunny. You
don't have to keep up that Mars
business now that we're off the
"It's the truth and I didn't come
here just by accident," said Mrs.
Dunny, looking over her shoulder
toward the attendant who was still
holding the prizes. "I came here to
Mrs. Dunny set the paper bag
down on the floor and dug down
into her pocketbook. She took out
a dog-eared piece of white paper
and bent it up in her hand.
"Yes," she said finally. "I came
to see you. And you didn't follow
me out here because you wanted to.
I commanded you to come."
"Commanded me to come!" I
spluttered. "What for?"
"To prove something to you. Do
you see this piece of paper?" She
held out the paper in her hand
with the blank side toward me.
"My address is on this paper. I am
reading the address. Concentrate
on what I'm reading."
I looked at her.
Suddenly, I knew.
"Two fifty-one South Eighth
Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,"
I said aloud.
"You see, it's very easy once you
get the hang of it," she said.
I nodded and smiled down at
her. Now I understood. I picked
up her bag and put my hand on
"Let's go," I said. "We have a
lot to talk about."
This etext was produced from Fantastic Universe November 1956.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
typographical errors have been corrected without note.