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Reading this question I was reminded of a TV show I saw a long time ago that has an ending almost identical to the short story described there.

The TV Episode, as I remember it, was black & white and involved a married man who went to some kind of show to see a woman strapped into an electronic machine that kept her alive (as I recall, it's an electric chair, so some irony that it is sustaining her life rather than taking it). I don't think she was able to speak, but somehow communicated with him and induced him to keep coming to see her. Eventually she convinces him to try to free her from the machine. The man's wife then comes looking for him, and the episode ends with the wife seeing the woman who used to be in the machine advertising a show with a man in the machine.

I think there was an element of the married man leading an extremely boring life, and the woman at the show offered an element of excitement.

I also vaguely remember her lighting up light bulbs with her hands being a feature of the show she was in. Maybe as part of a circus act. The circus element makes me think of Ray Bradbury, but I couldn't find any TV production he was involved in that matches this.

I'm almost certainly getting some details wrong since this was probably more than 15 years ago that I saw it. I was thinking it was a Twilight Zone episode, but haven't been able to find anything in Twilight Zone episodes that looks right.

  • This sounds a little like the Harlan Ellison story Pretty Maggie Monyeyes. – Joe L. Aug 4 '15 at 2:50
  • @JoeL. Thanks. I don't think that's it, but sounds interesting, anyway. – Bamboo Aug 4 '15 at 3:14
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Side Show, Ep. 12 of 'Way Out

This was the 12th (and most well-known) episode of Roald Dahl's science fiction series 'Way Out which aired on CBS for fourteen episodes in 1961. It was written by Elliott Baker (A Fine Madness, 1964). The following is a description from tv.com:

Meek Harold Potter is a bookkeeper with a nagging wife Edna, and no life. One night, he goes to a sideshow at a carnival. The main attraction is Cassandra, a headless lady strapped into an electric chair; only the chair is not a method of execution, but the opposite-- 10,000 volts "keep her alive." Somehow, telepathically, the headless Cassandra pleads with Harold to stay. Later, the carnival closes for the night. But Harold comes back to see Cassandra night after night. Harold falls in love with Cassandra; he even promises to help her escape the carny life. He is convinced that she is a normal girl, and the "headless" routine is just a carny trick; he thinks the only reality is that she is strapped into the electric chair, being held a virtual prisoner. Late one night, Harold sneaks into the sideshow, and using some pliers he starts to cut the metal straps that hold Cassandra. Later, Edna comes looking for her missing, errant hubby. A carny woman has fresh stitches on her neck, her head looks like that of the guillotined lady. And now there is a new sideshow attraction: a headless man strapped into an electric chair. The body looks like Harold's.

The Ray Bradbury connection is not far off, as the electric lady is extremely reminiscent of a tale Bradbury liked to tell about a circus performer, Mr. Electrico, from his youth. The following is Bradbury's account of Mr. Electrico,

Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, "Live forever!"

This is from in his words on raybradbury.com. It was this event which he credited with inspiring him to become a writer.

  • Certainly sounds surreal enough to be a Roald Dahl thing... – Mikasa Aug 5 '15 at 17:42

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