I guess this episode would be classified as a science fiction story but it’s so wacky that I don’t know how to call it that. Three astronauts are somehow lost in space. Their rocket is about to land on an asteroid (of course) that is something more than five hundred million miles from Earth. Now how you get lost in the solar system is sort of hard for me to understand but we’ll put that aside. When they get out on the asteroid it of course is exactly like Earth from our time. Just to fill in the back story this episode is taking place in 2186. Two hundred years earlier, the Earth was devastated by an atomic war and only recently had advanced back to the space age. So, this replica of Earth resembles the pre-war atomic war Earth. But all the people are lifeless. The are frozen in place going about life in various tableaux. There is a man running for mayor and a homely woman winning a beauty contest and an old man on a romantic date with a beautiful young woman. But no one is alive.
Finally, a living man named Wickwire shows up. He tells them that this is a mortuary. Rich people from 1985 paid to have their corpses preserved in the moment of some life long dream and maintained in that scene forever. He is the caretaker for the graveyard. While he is telling them, this story he offers them some wine and of course the wine is the embalming fluid that will prepare them to join the establishment. As they are dying, they ask him why he did it. He tells them that as caretaker his job is to make sure everything is peaceful and since they are men they must be killed because there can be no peace where men are. This must refer to the atomic war.
Before poisoning them, he asked them what their fondest wish was and they said being on their rocket headed back to Earth. So sure, enough after they die, he poses them in their ship as if they are in route to Earth.
Boy, Serling really likes to pound away at the atomic war thing. Humans make war, war bad, therefore humans bad. There’s really not much here. And what there is doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.