Little Girl Lost, Story Idea Found
People sometimes joke that Rod Serling and the other Twilight Zone writers must have been very strange people. Surely nobody sober and “normal” like the rest of us could come up with such wild story ideas, right?
The reality is reassuringly mundane. The show wasn’t written by eccentrics who consumed hallucinogenics by the handful. They were disciplined, talented writers who had sharp, quick, vivid imaginations.
Take the fan-favorite “Little Girl Lost,” a standout episode in Twilight Zone‘s third season. According to Richard Matheson:
My wife and I were living in a small, one-bedroom apartment at the time. And Tina, my wife’s daughter by a previous marriage, came to live with us. We had this kind of army bunk against the wall in the big living room, over in the corner. I heard her crying in the middle of the night.
When I went out there, it was still very dark. I felt for the bed. She wasn’t on the bed. And I thought, ‘Oh, gee, she’s fallen on the floor.’ The bed was pushed up against the wall so she could only fall on one side. So I felt down on the floor. And there was nothing. Then I thought, ‘Oh, my God, she’s gone under the bed.’
So I felt under the bed — and I still couldn’t feel her! I had to get down on my stomach and reach as far as I could over to the wall. She had fallen out of bed and rolled under the bed all the way against the wall. So you take this crying child, and you pick her up and comfort her.
But at the same time, that little demon in your brain says, ‘Ooooh — this would be a good story! What if she wasn’t there at all? What if she’d gone … someplace else?
The man who gave Twilight Zone fans such classics as “The Invaders” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (among others) certainly knew how to take viewers “someplace else.” Aided by producer Buck Houghton, cinematographer George Clemens, and a very talented TZ crew, “Little Girl Lost” took us all on a unique inter-dimensional trip.
One that we’d never want to experience first-hand, of course. At least, not without Bill, the physicist-neighbor, and Max, the trusty dimensional guide dog.
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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!