Nightmare as a Child

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"Nightmare as a Child"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 29
Directed by Alvin Ganzer
Written by Rod Serling
Featured music Jerry Goldsmith
Production code 173-3635
Original air date April 29, 1960
Guest actors

Janice Rule: Helen Foley
Terry Burnham: Markie
Shepperd Strudwick: Peter Selden
Michael Fox: Doctor
Morgan Brittany (Suzanne Cupito): Little Girl (uncredited)
Joseph V. Perry: Police Lieutenant

Episode chronology
← Previous
"A Nice Place to Visit"
Next →
"A Stop at Willoughby"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Nightmare as a Child" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Opening narration[edit]

Month of November, hot chocolate, and a small cameo of a child's face, imperfect only in its solemnity. And these are the improbable ingredients to a human emotion, an emotion, say, like - fear. But in a moment this woman, Helen Foley, will realize fear. She will understand what are the properties of terror. A little girl will lead her by the hand and walk with her into a nightmare.

Plot[edit]

A school teacher named Helen Foley (Janice Rule) finds a strange and very serious little girl named Markie (Terry Burnham) on the stairs outside her apartment. Despite her stoic appearance, she is humming the tune to a nursery rhyme. The little girl seems to know her and tries to jog her memory about a man she saw earlier that day.

The man arrives at Helen's door as Markie runs out the back way. The man is Peter Selden (Shepperd Strudwick), who claims that he worked for Helen's mother when Helen was a child and was the first to find her murdered mother's body. Helen had witnessed the crime but blocked it out. When she mentions Markie, Selden tells her that her nickname was Markie as a child and shows her an old photo of herself. The girl in the photo is identical to the Markie she met.

When Selden leaves, Markie reappears. She tells Helen that she is Helen herself, and that she is there to force her to remember her mother's murder. Helen falls asleep and sees the events of the murder in a dream. Selden returns and confesses to the murder. He says he knew that Helen would someday start to remember and that he would also have to do away with Helen, which he hadn't been able to do that night because people had started arriving as they heard screams. Helen manages to run into the hallway and pushes Selden down the stairs to his death.

After talking to the police and returning to her apartment, Helen hears a young girl's voice humming the same tune as Markie. To her relief, the girl is just an ordinary girl she doesn't recognize. She tells the little girl she has a beautiful smile...and advises her never to lose it.

Closing narration[edit]

Miss Helen Foley, who has lived in night and who will wake up to morning. Miss Helen Foley, who took a dark spot from the tapestry of her life and rubbed it clean - then stepped back a few paces and got a good look at the Twilight Zone.

In popular culture[edit]

In the "It's a Good Life" segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, the main character is named Helen Foley and is also a school teacher. Helen Foley was the name of a beloved teacher of Serling's at Binghamton High School, and the main performance theater at that school is named after her.

Further readings[edit]

  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0

External links[edit]