The Card (The Twilight Zone)
"The Card" is the first segment of the thirty-second episode (the thirteenth episode of the second season (1986–87) of the television series The New Twilight Zone.
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Bradford May|
|Written by||Michael Cassutt|
|Original air date||February 21, 1987|
The devil, they say, having so far failed to destroy the human race with nuclear weapons, toxic waste, or elevator music, has finally devised his most cunning weapon: long-term credit, with fine print written...in the Twilight Zone.
After having a number of credit cards revoked for lack of payment, Linda Wolfe, a mother of three and a compulsive spender, is invited to become a cardholder for a mysterious credit company called The Card. Entering the company she notes a woman clutching a baby emerging from a door labeled Acquisitions, then entering through a door called Disbursements behind a glass window. During her appointment with office manager Catherine Foley she discovers they have reviewed her credit history and because it is so poor she will have to agree to special terms of payment: she will be required to make payments weekly and if she misses a payment there will be severe penalties. Nevertheless, they want her as a cardholder and she immediately signs without bothering to read the contract.
Linda's husband Brian soon discovers the new card and that Linda has used it already to buy herself a bottle of perfume. He begs her to be very careful this time but one week later she is already delinquent on her payment. Then her cat mysteriously disappears, but when she asks her family about it no one seems to remember that they ever had a cat, nor is there any evidence the cat existed. Later, when Linda and Brian attempt to buy a refrigerator she discovers she neglected to make the first payment but isn't overly concerned. The following week, after she once again neglects to pay on time, their dog disappears and again none of the family remembers ever owning a dog. Then, Linda's car breaks down and she needs a mechanic and since she only has twelve dollars in cash she uses her credit card. As a result of using her card again while still delinquent, Linda's three children disappear. Of course, Brian doesn't know anything about the children and this pushes Linda over the edge of sanity.
Linda starts to realize that the credit card company might be behind it all. She goes to The Card and sees what their Acquisitions and Disbursements are about as she sees her own children going through the doors. Catherine informs Linda that because she failed to make her payments on time, they repossessed her pets and children to cover her bills, along with all memories that anyone but her have of them. Catherine explains to Linda that The Card tries to disburse its acquisitions in what they believe to be better environments while calling out Linda for her reckless behaviour and her poor performance as a mother. Linda frantically tries to buy back her children with a check from her and Brian's joint account (her own account is revealed to have been overdrawn). Catherine accepts it but warns that if the check doesn't clear another penalty will be assessed.
Linda arrives home to tell Brian about the check but he tells her the bank has already called him about it and he cancelled it. Everything then starts to disappear around her—car, furniture, and her husband. She cuts the credit card (which now has her maiden name Wilson on it) to keep more things from disappearing but it's too late. As the card falls to the ground, her house and everything in it—including Linda—disappears. The only thing that's left is the cut credit card lying on the ground which is now nameless, implying that, as a final penalty, Linda has been wiped from existence.