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If you think Grag’s an insensitive robot, read his own account of getting psychoanalyzed and repairing to Pluto’s Fourth Moon!
“Pardon My Iron Nerves” was originally published in 1950. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher.
I DIDN’T want to do it. I, Grag, am not given to talking about myself. When Curt Newton suggested that I write up this particular adventure for the casebook in which he records our doings I refused at first.
I said, “No, Curt, I’d rather not. You know I’m not one to brag about my own exploits.”
“I know that,” he said. “But since it was you who where chiefly concerned in this business with the Machs, and since you’re the only one who knows all the details you should write the report on it.”
Well, I had to agree. After all, Curt—Captain Future—depends on me more than on any of the other Futuremen. It’s because we think alike, I guess.
Of course Simon Wright was human himself once—long ago before his brain was transferred into the artificial serum-case that is now his “body”. But there’s something a little remote about Simon even to Curt.
As for Otho, the other Futureman—well, being an android or artificial man, Otho looks human. But that’s as far as it goes. Otho just doesn’t think the way we do.
I’ll admit that I, Grag, don’t look so much like other people. I’m a metal man, seven feet high. Otho calls me a robot but that’s ridiculous—he merely does it because he’s jealous of me.
I’ve always been sorry for Otho. For his limitations aren’t his own fault.
You see, neither Otho nor I was born. We were made, created by the science of Roger Newton, Curt’s father, and of Simon.
In their hidden laboratory on the Moon—the same Moon-laboratory that we Futuremen now call home—they used their scientific skill to create living beings.
I, Grag, was their first and supreme creation. They made me of enduring metal, powered by atomic generators that give my metal limbs immense strength. I am stronger than twenty men together. My photo-electric eyes can see better and my audio-circuit ears can hear better.
And my metal brain is just as superior in its own way. It contains millions of electronic synaptic circuits. That’s why I can think and act so swiftly.
I can still remember the look of awe on the faces of my creators when they observed the quickness with which I learned.
I remember overhearing Roger Newton tell Simon, “Grag is a great creation in his way. But we’ll try a different form, next time.”
Simon agreed. “We don’t want to create another one like him!”
OBVIOUSLY they were a bit frightened by the awesome intelligence and power they had created in me! Naturally they felt that a few more like me would make all other living creatures obsolete!
That is why, when they created a second artificial being, they ran no danger of creating another super-being like myself but instead chose the android form for Otho because they wanted to make sure he would have only a limited intelligence.
When Roger Newton and his young wife died so tragically it was we Futuremen—Simon and Otho and I—who took care of little Curtis and reared him to mankind.
I have to admit that I taught Curt most of what he learned. Otho was too feather-headed to teach anyone and Simon too severe and impatient. Of course they wouldn’t let me spank Curtis, for my metal hand would have crushed him. But I was his chief tutor and guide.
And when Curt grew up and started roving, winning the nickname of Captain Future, he naturally leaned more on me than on the others. Many a time my resourcefulness saved the day when his recklessness had got us into trouble. In fact I’ve seldom let him go anywhere without me.
But on the particular day when this business of the Machs really started I was on my own.
We had come to Earth so that Curt might consult a certain bureau of the Solar System Government. That gave me a chance I’d been waiting for and I took it.
I said, “I’d like to go into New York while you’re holding your conference here at Government Center, Curt.”
He stared at me. “Whatever for, Grag?”
“He probably wants to get his rivets tightened,” put in Otho.
That’s Otho’s way of showing his petty jealousy of me—always playing upon the fact that I’m made of metal. I simply ignored him with calm dignity, as I always do.
“Just a little private business,” I told Curt. “I won’t be long.”
He said, “Well, you’ll startle the people a little but everyone knows about Grag the Futureman so I guess they won’t be too surprised. Go ahead, but be back by ten for we’re going back to the Moon then.”
I left them and went to the tubeway station. It was a rush-hour and the tube-cars were crowded.
I created a mild sensation in the station. Naturally, everyone had heard of me and of the things I had done, with the help of Curt and the others. I heard them whispering my name in the train.
However I was too engrossed in my own thoughts to pay attention to them. The errand upon which I was going was a serious one.
I hadn’t told Curt about it lest he worry. But the fact is that I was concerned about my health.
Of course Otho would have laughed and sneered, “How can a metal man seven feet high get sick?”
But it wasn’t bodily sickness that worried me. My problem was a psychological one.
I’ve always had a delicate, sensitive kind of mind. I guess it’s because my metal brain is just too brilliant. And lately I’d been worrying a little about it.
It began when I happened to see a televisor-play about a man losing his mind. It showed how he neglected his complexes until finally he went crazy.
“This could happen to you!” the announcer had said. “Tune in next week for another thrilling psychological drama, presented by the Sunshine Company on their Happiness Hour!”