"The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far corner of the universe. The cast of characters: 3 men lost amongst the stars, 3 men sharing the common urgency of all men lost- they're looking for home. And in a moment they'll find home, not a home that is a place to be seen but a strange, unexplainable experience to be felt."
Running out of fuel, astronauts Meyers, Webber, and Kirby land their spaceship on a remote asteroid in 2186. They find the place quite Earth-like with buildings and people, but after looking around begin to wonder where everyone is. The first place they come to is a farm where they can find no one. No one, that is, until they see a farmer gazing off into the distance. They approach him, tap him on the shoulder and try talking to him, but realize he is nothing more than a statue.
The men later come to a town hall in which a man is being elected mayor. There's a large audience and a band playing. They can hear music, but everyone and everything is dead-still. A beauty pageant, in which several lovely ladies are participating in on stage, is where they find themselves next. Again there's a large audience and the sound of much activity, but no one is moving - as if they are frozen. Just as they leave the room, an old man in the audience suddenly turns around and smiles.
The astronauts explore the area for some time, and grow more and more disturbed by their surroundings as they find everything - even the animals - eerily motionless. Finally, they are startled to find someone who does move - "Wickwire", the caretaker of this place. Wickwire explains to the astronauts that the asteroid they have landed on is an exclusive cemetery called "Happy Glades" founded in 1973 where rich people can live out their life's greatest fantasy - after they die. He is told by the men that a nuclear war destroyed much of the Earth in 1985, and that it has taken over two hundred years to recover from it. Wickwire serves the three men wine and asks what their greatest wish is. All three reply that they wish they were on their ship heading for home. Suddenly, they realize that their drinks have been poisoned. As the men are dying, Wickwire (who is actually a robot that has been deactivated for "about 200 years" and only turns on for occasional duties such as cleaning, dusting, and performing minor maintenance on a few clocks) apologizes to them, and explains that it's his job to ensure peace and tranquility at "Happy Glades". He emphasizes that "they are men, and where there are men there can be no peace".
Later, Wickwire re-installs the embalmed astronauts in their ship, posing them at their posts as if they were, indeed, on their way home - just as they'd wished.
"Kirby, Webber, & Meyers, 3 men lost. They shared a common wish, a simple one, really- they wanted to be aboard their ship, headed for home. And fate, a laughing fate, a practical jokester with a smile that stretched across the stars, saw to it as they got their wish, with just 1 reservation: The wish came true, but only in the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
Next week, I try to settle an argument to the effect that I'm not at my best when writing scripts for women. Ms. Vera Miles takes my side in a most unusual and unique story we call "Mirror Image". I hope to see, next week, you in your living room and Ms. Vera Miles and the rest of us in The Twilight Zone.
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (in association with)
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1960) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
United Productions of America (UPA) (animated title)
Douglas Heyes replaced the original short story's motionless car-race with a beauty pageant, displeasing story-writer Charles Beaumont - though, ironically, the pageant is considered the most memorable part of the episode.
This episode takes place on the cemetery asteroid Happy Glades in 2186.
The title "elegy" refers to a somber song or poem expressing sorrow for one who has died.
Most of Earth's surface was destroyed in an atomic war in 1985 in this episode. Ironically, the first revival series would also come out in 1985 and this revival frequently dealt with nuclear devastation.
Captain James Webber, Professor Kurt Meyers and Peter Kirby left Earth in September 2185.
The Canadian industrial band Skinny Puppy used samples from this episode in their songs "200 Years", "Dig It", and "Chainsaw".
As pointed out in The Twilight Zone Companion the 655 million miles from Earth given would put the asteroid (and its binary star system) within the orbit of Saturn. "The nearest star to our solar system is approximately twenty-six trillion miles away. (sic)"