A man named Philip Redfield is travelling by car with his English Sheepdog Rollie when he pulls in to a small town called Peaceful Valley to refill his nearly empty gas tank. The attendant doesn’t seem to know much about cars and seems distinctly unfriendly and tries to convince Philip to leave town as soon as possible. But while the attendant is laboriously counting out change for a ten-dollar bill Rollie catches sight of a little girl holding a cat and leaps out to chase it.
When Philip catches up to the dog and the cat, he’s just in time to see the little girl point a small electronic device at Rollie causing him disappear. When Philip interrogates her about his dog she rushes into the nearby house and shuts the door. Philip pounds on the door and the girl’s father (played by James Doohan, Scotty from Star Trek) emerges and refuses to believe his story but maintains that Rollie just ran behind the house. He tells Philip to head one way around the block and he’ll go the opposite to find the dog. As soon as the father turns the corner, he takes out a similar device and triggering it causes Rollie to reappear. The father maintains that Rollie just ran away and Philip goes back to his car very confused but convinced that something strange is going on in Peaceful Valley.
Failing to find a place to eat, Philip decides to drive out of town but as he approaches the town line his car crashes into an invisible barrier and Rollie is killed in the wreck. Several townsmen appear immediately and insist that they will get him to medical help. When Philip is escorted away from the scene of the accident one of them who stayed behind uses one of the mysterious devices to resurrect Rollie back to life.
Instead of being brought to a doctor, Philip is escorted to the town hall and there he is introduced to Dorn, the mayor of Peaceful Valley. Dorn learns that Philip is a reporter but has only come to Peaceful Valley because he ran out of gas. Now Dorn reveals the town secret. Peaceful Valley was visited a hundred years previously by a scientist who was either from another planet or because he was unimaginably brilliant made breakthroughs in physical science that allowed him to invent machines that can rearrange and transmute physical things in almost any way imaginable. Their science allows them to disassemble and reassemble living creatures instantaneously. They can even run time backward for someone who has been injured or for any other reason. And Dorn shows him the original scientific papers used to create this miraculous world and puts them in a place where Philip can find them.
Dorn tells Philip that this secret is so important that anyone discovering it must make the choice of either staying thereafter forever in Peaceful Valley or be put to death. He claims that such incredible power would be used by the outside world to produce weapons unimaginably more powerful than even atom bombs.
Faced with a life or death decision Philip tells Dorn he chooses to stay in Peaceful Valley. Dorn hands Philip over to a young woman named Ellen Marshall who prepares a house for Philip to live in and tries to orient Philip in his new environment. But Philip finds out that the house he lives in is surrounded by a force field meant to keep him trapped. Philip appeals to Ellen to help him steal the scientific secrets and break out of Peaceful Valley and bring these wonders to the outside world. She agrees and using her own devices she frees Philip and joins him as he heads to the town hall to get the book. When he reaches the control room, he uses the transmuter to crate a pistol and when Dorn and his men catch him stealing the book Philip shoots them down with the gun.
He and Ellen flee but when he reaches the town line, he looks in the book and finds that it is blank. Ellen was a part of a test that Philip has now failed. A resurrected Dorn and his men soon return Philip to the town hall where Dorn explains that Philip has proven the point that mankind would use this almost godlike power to wage war on each other. Philip is defiant and claims that given the chance he would do it all again the same. And he blames Ellen for her false claims of love for him. But she claims that she did have feelings for him. Dorn declares that the death penalty will be needed. But he makes a vague reference to more than one kind of death. He puts a helmet on Philip, hits a button and the scene ends.
In the next scene we see Philip reenacting his first scene with the gas station attendant and acting confused when he sees Ellen walk by. Instead of actual death, Dorn has reversed time for Philip and he has no memories of the events in Peaceful Valley. He and Rollie leave with Philip feeling only vague misgivings about Peaceful Valley.
This is an actual science fiction story. Hurrah! Despite some slightly hackneyed conventions and plot devices it’s nice to get some good old fashioned sci-fi. The acting is pretty good and even the ending is relatively happy. Ray guns, time travel, a goofy dog and even Scotty! B+