My favorite TV Episodes 1: The Twilight Zone Episode 75 – “The Midnight Sun”

“The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is 'doomed,' because the people you've just seen have been handed a death sentence. One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit and in doing so began to follow a path, which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man's little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries—they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. The time is five minutes to twelve, midnight. There is no more darkness. The place is New York City, and this is the eve of the end, because even at midnight it's high noon, the hottest day in history, and you're about to spend it in the Twilight Zone.”

- Rod Serling “The Twilight Zone – Midnight Sun” (Opening)


If you were to ask me my number one fear, my answer would always be the heat. Not death, not zombies, not the dark, not heights, and even clowns. Simply put I fear the heat in all of it’s varied and vial permutations. How did this fear begin? Well in case you can’t tell from the opening quote the blame falls firmly on the shoulders of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone episode number seventy-five, “The Midnight Sun.”

As the show opens, we learn that the Earth's orbit has been disrupted through unknown means. This is causing the world to slowly fall into the sun. I like to think we were a victim of a flyby by Galactus or Ego the living planet.
Our eyes in this little narrative is an artist named Norma, and her landlady, Mrs. Bronson. They are the last people remaining in their New York apartment building. All their neighbors have either moved North, where it is cooler or perished from the extremely high temperatures. We are informed that at twenty minutes to midnight, it is 110 °F and sunny as high noon. That’s the beginning of my terror right there. More than a hundred degrees at midnight. The idea of no comfort, no cool air, terrifies me to the point of paralysis.

Norma and Mrs. Bronson try to support each other as they watch life as they know it erode around them. The streets are deserted, water usage is limited to an hour a day, and their electricity is gradually being turned off. Food and water are scarce. A radio reporter announces that the police have been moved out of the city and that citizens must defend themselves against looters, then angrily goes off script, joking that you can, "fry eggs on your sidewalk and heat up soup in the oceans." The reporter is forcibly taken off the air.

This is one of the first times I ever realized that during a cataclysm all order would break down. This was years before I read ‘ALAS BABYLON’ or saw THE DAY AFTER so just hearing those words in “MIDNIGHT SUN” were enough to induce nightmares and influence me to this very day. Did you ever read my book ‘DARK EARTH’? The footprints of “MIDNIGHT SUN” are all over it.

As the temperature rises to 120 °F, the two women grow weaker and weaker. Norma burns her hand on a windowsill. Mrs. Bronson becomes psychologically unstable, beseeching Norma to paint a picture of a cool subject, rather than Norma's usual paintings of the sun and burning cities, screaming, "Don't paint the sun anymore!" Suddenly, they hear footsteps on the roof. Norma asks Mrs. Bronson if she locked the roof access door, but she can't remember. The roof door begins to open, and they lock themselves in Norma's apartment. A man's voice calls from outside, demanding entry. Norma threatens him with a cocked revolver, and they hear him walk away. Against Norma's pleas, Mrs. Bronson unlocks the door, and the stranger, still present, forces his way into the apartment, pulls the revolver from Norma and drinks all of their water. He calms down after he has quenched his thirst and begs for their forgiveness, claiming that he is an honest man driven insane by the heat. He throws away the revolver and describes the recent death of his wife and newborn child from overheating and complications during labor. He insistently begs for forgiveness until Norma acknowledges him with a nod, then leaves the apartment building.

This scene, the man and his plight driving him to become something he’s not, has affected me to this day. Seeing his fear, his loss, and his shame is the television equivalent of a kick to the head. I want to forgive this man and throw him from the window at the same time. Add that to the deterioration of the two women and the desperation, and lack of hope are complete. The world is dying and we know without a shadow of a doubt there’s nothing to be done but burn in the terrestrial hell.

In an attempt to console Mrs. Bronson after the man leaves, Norma shows her an oil painting of a waterfall cascading into a lush pond, implied to be that of Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, New York (specifically in Ulysses). Mrs. Bronson, unable to cope with the heat, deliriously claims that she can feel the coolness and delightfully splashes in the imaginary waters before collapsing to the floor and dying. Norma sits in shock as the thermometer surges past 120 °F and shatters. The paint on Norma's oil paintings begins to melt before her eyes, and she screams and collapses to the ground.

I still dream of the melting paint to this day. Not even a joke I have many a nightmare where the environment around me melts like the paint in “MIDNIGHT SUN”.

The scene cuts to the apartment at night with heavy snow outside the windows. The same thermometer reads −10 °F. Norma is bedridden with a high fever and is tended to by Mrs. Bronson and a doctor. The plot about the Earth moving closer to the sun is revealed to be only a fever dream. In reality, the Earth is moving away from the sun, and the world is freezing to death. Norma tells Mrs. Bronson about her nightmare, adding, "Isn't it
wonderful to have darkness, and coolness?" Mrs. Bronson face stiffens in dread, and she replies, "Yes, my dear, it's... wonderful."

“The Midnight Sun” is one of, if not my all time, favorite episode of television ever aired.
The last few years have been some of the worst in my life in terms of comfort and ability to function. We’ve experienced a string of years so hot that they are in succession being called “The Hottest Year In Recorded History” one after another. I’m from Michigan. I grew up in a cool climate where we never had an air conditioner and a couple of windows with fans in them were enough to cool most homes. Now I live in Ohio where it’s hot, but when I go home to Michigan, it’s just as bad.

The temperature is rising, the water is rising, and the climate has gone insane. Even now my family is planning a move north to stay ahead of the heat and coming chaos. Ironically we’re looking to the Land of the Midnight Sun as a viable option.


“The poles of fear, the extremes of how the Earth might conceivably be doomed. Minor exercise in the care and feeding of a nightmare, respectfully submitted by all the thermometer-watchers in the Twilight Zone.”

- Rod Serling “The Twilight Zone – Midnight Sun” (Closing)

Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!