This is the story of
HOW I, 8TH MAN, CAME TO BE
Story by Kazumasa Hirai (1963) Screenplay by Reuben Guberman (1965)
Transcription by Kirk Hastings (2010)
Adapted from the television episode
It starts in an alley in Metropolitan City, where a gun battle was taking place between Special Agent Brady of Metropolitan International Crime Prevention Headquarters and some vicious criminals. It was really a routine assignment in the war on crime, and Special Agent Brady had no idea how important this one incident would become.
I, the robot now known as 8th Man, was Special Agent Brady, and I had no idea that a new life was to start for me as a result of this gun battle ...
"One agent left – that's good. We can't let one policeman stop us. I've got an idea how to set a trap for him!" the gangster called Saucerlip whispered from where he was hiding behind a stack of barrels.
"That's a swell idea," said the crook beside him.
"Sounds good, boss!" replied the third gangster.
Saucerlip had gained his odd nickname because of his prominent lower lip and jaw. It was after midnight, and, after a long car chase, Special Agent Brady had finally cornered him and his two companions in an alley located just off the waterfront. They had been shooting back and forth at each other for almost five minutes now.
Brady waited behind the building that he was using as cover. The gangsters had stopped firing their guns.
"Don't shoot, Agent Brady! I don't wanna die! I give up!" Saucerlip suddenly yelled.
"Move forward slowly!" Brady called back.
Saucerlip came out of hiding, holding his hands up. Brady stepped out from behind the building and cautiously walked forward toward him. When he was close enough to Saucerlip he clapped a pair of handcuffs on the crook's wrists.
"Where's your two pals, Saucerlip?" Brady asked.
"Those two cowards left me to shoot it out alone with you!" Saucerlip responded. "They scrammed!"
"What happened to all the money you stole from the bank?"
"I don't know what happened to it! When those two cowards chickened out and took off I guess they took it all with them!"
"That's a good story, but not good enough!" Brady replied. He started walking with Saucerlip. "I'm taking you to headquarters to see Chief Tanaka!"
As they walked Brady noticed that Saucerlip suddenly had a strange grin on his face.
"Hah! Goodbye Brady!" Saucerlip said to him.
A pair of headlights abruptly came up behind Brady. Saucerlip jumped quickly out of the way.
"Hey!" was all Brady had a chance to say, before the sedan ran him down.
Saucerlip jumped into the still-moving car as it sped away, leaving Special Agent Brady lying motionless on the pavement.
And so, in a dark street, my life as Special Agent Brady was coming to an end. Who could have guessed that this was both an end, and a beginning? That while my existence as Brady was rapidly draining out of my broken body, a whole new life was soon to open for me ... with a new body, one more powerful than any the world had ever known!
# # #
Within minutes another car pulled up. Its headlights illuminated the body on the pavement. The car stopped, and a tall, dignified-looking man with white hair and a white mustache got out. He was wearing a long cloak that wafted back and forth in the night breeze.
I am Professor Tani. I don't know if it was a dream that led me to that dark street on that particular night, or was it the hand of destiny?
Tani touched Brady's forehead.
He's dead ... but he's so young! I'll take him to my lab ... perhaps I can give him a new life!
I picked up the young man's body, and carried it to my car. ... It was a long ride to my laboratory outside the city, and I had plenty of time to think. To think about many years of hard work ... and a dream ... a dream that I had long cherished ... that of giving a new body to an existing mind. But more than simply the powerful body, I planned to transfer all the existing thoughts, emotions, and knowledge, in the human brain, to an electronic one that would be virtually indestructible. Therefore, having a robot with human emotional and moral attributes. My laboratory came into view ... soon, I would know.
A large house loomed up in the blackness ahead of the car. An electronic garage door slid upward on one side of the house, and the car entered the large opening it had created.
Once inside, Tani parked the car. Then he took Brady's body up in an elevator to a secret attic laboratory on the top floor of the house.
"I haven't got much time. I'll have to hurry," Tani said to himself once he had gained the lab. Much of the room was taken up by elaborate electronic equipment mounted against all four walls from floor to ceiling. Tani gently set Brady's body down on one of two metal operating tables located in the center of the room. Then he began to set numerous dials and switches on the equipment.
Finally he completed his preparations. "Everything's set," he muttered. "Here it goes!"
He turned one final switch. A device attached to the ceiling extended one of its two long arms toward Brady's body. At the end of the arm was a globe-like device that hovered over the lab table.
"Now we'll see if my Electric Ray Machine works, or if it is just a dream. I hope it works, for his sake! He is too young to die! And he won't have to die ... not really, if all goes well."
A bright, jagged beam of light lanced out from the globe at the end of the electronic arm, and it bathed Brady's head in a weird glow.
"The Overhead Invigorator is functioning ... his body is beginning to react. The instruments all read properly. Very good! ... Ah, everything's working perfectly! All systems A-OK! At last, my dream is becoming a reality! The priceless life force in that fine young body is responding just as I expected!"
The other arm of the ceiling device now stretched out toward a second operating table a few feet away from the first, on which lay a strange form that somewhat resembled a man, but was fully mechanical in nature. The globe on the second arm began to bathe the head of the robot figure in the same weird glow.
"The Invigorator is taking that force, and enlarging it and transferring it electronically to the new form! Good! My creation is absorbing the Invigorator waves. There! It's almost done! ... And now, for the final crucial step!"
Tani went to another electronic panel and activated another ray, which began to bathe the robot figure from head to toe. Within a minute or two, the robot sat up on the operating table and opened his eyes.
"I did it! he's alive!" Tani exclaimed. "A victory for science! My greatest achievement!"
The robotman got up off the table and stood up.
"Well, my young friend. How do you feel now?" Tani asked him.
"I feel okay, but what in the world is this all about?" the robot replied. His voice sounded exactly like that of Special Agent Brady.
"Do you know who you are?"
"Special Agent Brady."
"Young man, this experiment is a fantastic success!"
"Wait a minute! What experiment?" The robot looked himself over. "Tell me – why am I dressed like this? I don't understand what's going on!"
"You were killed - you were run over by a car."
"Killed? I'm not dead! All right, mister, if this is your idea of a practical joke, I don't like it!"
"I'm not joking – there's your body!" Tani indicated the first operating table.
The robotman moved over to the body on the table and stared down at it.
"What? It is me, isn't it? How very strange I look there! What in the world have you done with me? I don't understand it – here I am dead and cold, and yet, here I'm alive and warm! Am I going crazy or something?"
"I'll explain it," Tani replied. "I saved your life, but I couldn't save your body. Your body was too badly damaged by the accident to save. With my Electric Wave Machine I was able to restore your life and transfer it to the body you now have. Do you understand? You are now a robot, and no longer a human being. You will never be any different."
"You had no right to do this!" the robot shouted at him.
"I did at the time what I thought was best for you."
The robot walked over to a nearby full-length mirror and stared at his reflection.
"That isn't my face, and I don't like it one bit!" he snapped.
"Everything I did was for your sake, young man."
"For my sake, you say? Without asking you put me in a body entirely different from my own! ... I'll be unhappy for the rest of my life! I do not intend to spend it as a robot for you or for anyone else! Do you understand me?"
"But it's impossible to do anything about it, my boy."
"You've got to figure out something to do, and right now!"
In a fit of anger, the robotman smashed his fist down on the operating table from which he had arisen. The incredible power of his blow smashed the heavy table to pieces, destroying it.
The robot looked down at the pile of rubble in front of him. "That table! I smashed it with my fist!" he declared. "I smashed that steel table to pieces! I must have the power of 1000 men!"
"You are 10,000 times more powerful than any man who ever lived!" Tani told him. He activated another nearby device which projected a cutaway diagram of the robot's body onto the wall. "Here is a diagram of your new body, and how it works. You are different now in many ways, as you shall see. First, you have a micro-atomic generator in place of a heart, which gives you superhuman endurance. You have an electronic brain, that solves any problem in a millionth part of a second. You can think 100 times faster than a human being!"
Fascinated by all this, the robotman began to calm down.
Tani then went briefly into another room. When he returned, he was carrying a bat in his hand.
"This bat will illustrate another of your powers. I'll release him. Now, listen carefully. Can you hear anything?"
"Yes," the robot replied.
"This bat is almost blind. Yet he can fly safely with no fear of collision because he has a supersonic radar. You can hear the sonic waves from the bat's radar. No human being can hear them. But your electronic hearing apparatus is so finely tuned that you can pick up absolutely any sound wave." Tani indicated the ceiling. "Now then, catch that bat for me, would you? There he is, right up there."
The bat flitted about the ceiling.
"That's impossible," the robot responded. "I'd have to fly."
"That's right, you would. And you can. Focus your brain on launching yourself into the air. Why, you'll move so fast the bat will seem to stand still. Your anti-gravity unit will do the rest. Try it."
The robotman jumped up and easily caught the bat in his hands.
"I got it!" he exclaimed.
"Of course you did. You can fly faster than the speed of light if you wish." Again using the device he had used previously, Tani projected a side-by-side silhouette of the bodies of the robot and a human being. "Here are diagrams of yours and a normal human body," he explained. "You're on the left." Animated white lines began to move down both figures, starting from their heads and moving to the tips of their hands and feet. But the lines on the robot diagram moved much faster than the ones on the human diagram. The lines on the robot diagram reached its feet before the lines on the human diagram had even proceeded past its chest. "Those moving lines indicate how much faster your brain transmits impulses through your body," Tani explained. "Why, you can move fast enough to catch a bullet in mid-air!"
The robot stared at Tani.
"You look doubtful," Tani said. "Try moving around this room."
In response, the robot sprinted around the room from one corner to another. He moved so quickly he appeared to be nothing more than a blur as he went.
"It's unbelievable!" he exclaimed.
"There's one more thing ... I'll turn off the lights." Tani did so. "Look around the room. Do you see anything?"
"I see everything clearly. Even you."
"That's right. You can see in complete darkness. ... Now, imagine yourself anyone you wish."
"Okay." The robotman was starting to get into this little game.
Almost magically, the robot's features instantaneously transmuted themselves into an exact copy of Special Agent Brady.
"As you think of a face, your special plastic skin assumes the appearance you imagine!" Tani told him.
The robot thought of other world figures. One at a time, he transformed himself into exact duplicates of Emperor Hirohito, President Kennedy, Premier Khrushchev, and back into his original robot self. Now he was so amused by his own amazing power that he laughed.
Tani was pleased to see that the robot's original anger and fear at his startling transformation from human to machine was beginning to dissipate. But then he became serious again: "Now remember, because you have superior powers, you take on extra responsibilities to mankind. You must pledge yourself to use your great power only for the good of humanity. You must be a champion of law and order. Will you make this pledge?"
The robot looked at him. "I'll take that pledge with all my heart," he said. "But where can I find help if I need it?"
"Come and see me, because I'm the only person who can help you. I am Professor Tani, and I will always be ready to assist you. But nothing should go wrong if you follow the instructions I will give you." He looked at the large number "8" emblazoned on the robot's chest. "I will call you 8th Man, because you are my 8th experiment, and greatest contribution to mankind."
"8th Man it is then," the robot agreed. He seemed perfectly calm now.
"Very good. Now, we must give you a new name and face for the outside world." Tani thought for a moment. "There they will know you as Tobor – that's robot spelled backwards."
8th Man instantly transformed his features back into a duplicate of Agent Brady.
"Ah, you have created an excellent face for yourself," Tani replied. He produced some small cylinders from his pocket, and held them out to 8th Man.
"These look like cigarettes, but they are super energy boosters. Use one if you ever need it. Always keep them with you, and if you need more, just let me know. Use them only when you need extra power."
"Remember, your power must be a secret between you and me. This knowledge in the wrong hands could cause great trouble in the world."
Tani looked at his creation with great pride gleaming in his eyes.
"Good luck, 8th Man!" he told him.
They both shook hands.
"Thank you, Professor," 8th Man replied.
Then he turned and raced away at tremendous speed.
# # #
Tobor, once again dressed in a normal business suit, walked along the streets of Metropolitan City.
I assumed an appearance which was much like my former self, before I became a robot. I found it a little difficult to adjust to the whole idea of that word, robot. For indeed, as the Professor had planned, I had all the emotions of a human being.
Tobor stooped and picked up a newspaper which was blowing by on the street. It was today's edition, and the front page featured an article about his own murder.
When I read about my own murder and learned that my former boss, Chief Tanaka, of Metropolitan International, was hot on Saucerlip's trail, I decided to try out my new powers in an independent search for my own killer.
Suddenly, a little dog suddenly darted out into the street into the path of an oncoming car. At eye-blurring speed, Tobor ran into the street and grabbed it just before the car was about to run over it. He deposited the dog safely on the sidewalk.
At first, a little puppy that I had rescued tried to be friendly. But the strangeness of my robot body frightened him away. I realized then that my new life would be a lonely one.
# # #
Meanwhile, back at Metro International Headquarters, my old boss, Chief Tanaka, renewed his determination to bring Saucerlip to justice ...
The Chief stared sadly at a framed photo of Brady on his desk that was draped with a black ribbon. Presently his office began to fill with other agents.
"All right, men, it's time you get on the ball!" he ordered. "I want those killers caught, and I want them caught right away! Is that clear? Now, listen to me! ..."
"We'll never catch that gang now!" one agent whispered quietly to the man standing next to him, as the Chief spoke. "With all that money they're probably a long way outta town by now!"
Another agent in the back of the group whispered to a companion: "I hope the Chief didn't hear that! He wants those crooks caught, and he won't listen to any excuses from anybody!"
"Catch those crooks, or I'll have your heads – all of you!" the Chief continued to rant.
The telephone on the Chief's desk started to ring. He picked up the receiver. "Chief Tanaka here! Yeah ... Uh-huh ... What's that? You're chasing Saucerlip on Route One right now? Stick with him, do you hear me?" He lowered the receiver and looked at his men. "Into your cars, everyone! Officer O'Dea is chasing Saucerlip on Route One! Hurry! This might be our last chance to catch him! Now get going!"
The agents all raced out of the room. Once downstairs they all piled into police cars, and the cars sped off down the street.
Tobor was standing nearby just down the street. He had overheard everything.
"It's time for 8th Man!" he announced. He immediately transformed back into his robot self, and raced off.
# # #
Shortly thereafter, on a country highway, a lone car sped a short distance ahead of four police cars that were in hot pursuit of it.
"Hey, Saucerlip! The police cars are gainin' on us!" shouted the gangster sitting in the car's back seat.
"Okay, let 'em have it!" Saucerlip ordered from the driver's seat.
The second crook fired his pistol out of the car's side window. The bullet punctured the windshield of the lead police car, which the Chief was now riding in. The Chief ducked just as the bullet passed by his ear.
"Okay, if that's the way you want to play!" he yelled at the gangster car. He pulled his own pistol from its holster.
The cars exchanged gunfire with each other. Another police car windshield was hit by Saucerlip's comrade, and again the officer driving ducked out of the way just in time.
"Take that!" Saucerlip's companion shouted, proud of his marksmanship. "The next time I won't miss, ya dirty coppers!"
More gunfire was exchanged.
"They're getting too close!" Saucerlip yelled.
"Step on it, boss! Can't you get any more speed outta this crate?"
"Keep shooting, you fool! It's our only chance to escape!"
Just then, a shot hit the front tire of the gangster's car. There was a loud bang as the tire exploded.
"Saucerlip! They hit our tires!"
The gangster in the back seat had time to say nothing else. Saucerlip screamed in fear as he lost control of his car. It skidded, then turned over in the middle of the road. It flipped over once, twice, and then came to a stop on its roof.
"They're turned over!" the Chief yelled.
Saucerlip crawled slowly out of the wreck. His partner in crime did not.
"I'd better get outta here!" he mumbled, as he saw the police cars quickly approaching. Painfully, but in determined desperation, he got up and stumbled off into the woods.
The four police cars pulled up to the wreck and stopped. The Chief was one of the first to jump out of his car. "Get him, men!" he shouted. The other police officers piled out of their cars and ran after the escaping fugitive.
Saucerlip ran through the woods. "Gotta get away! Gotta get away! Gotta get away!" he repeated frantically to himself, working himself into a panic. Before long he came to another highway. Gathering his strength he jumped over the barrier at its edge, and spotted a convertible sports car coming. There was a young girl at the wheel.
"Aha!" he shouted. He stood in the middle of the road with his arms stretched out.
"Hold it!" he yelled.
The girl stomped on her brakes, and was able to stop her car only a few feet in front of the man in the road. Saucerlip pulled a gun out of his pocket and pointed it straight at her.
At the sight of the weapon the girl froze. Saucerlip got into the car, all the while pointing the gun at the girl's head.
"Do as I tell ya, and you'll be all right!" he commanded. "Remember that, sister, for your own good - understand?"
"Oh – you're Saucerlip!" the girl cried.
"That's right – I'm the meanest, toughest gangster in the country!" Saucerlip boasted. "I'm gonna use you for protection!"
Frightened by the gun being waved in her face, the girl passed out. Saucerlip climbed in behind the wheel. But before he could restart the car he found himself surrounded by the Chief and a horde of police officers!
"Aha! You're through! You won't get away this time, Saucerlip!" the Chief announced. "We've got you now!"
"That's what you think, funnyface!" Saucerlip replied defiantly. He held up the unconscious girl with his pistol pointed at her head. "Lemme go or I'll blast the girl!" he ordered.
The Chief stared, not knowing what to do.
"Now get outta my way!" Saucerlip shouted.
"I'm going to have to let him go! If I don't he's sure to kill the girl!" the Chief said, half to himself.
"Then let him go if you have to, Chief!" one of the officers offered. "But he won't get very far away this time!"
"Get outta my way, I'm leaving!" Saucerlip commanded again. "Get outta my way!"
Saucerlip gunned the engine, and the car jumped forward, scattering the Chief and the officers.
"All right you guys - go tackle that crook!" the Chief yelled, as Saucerlip sped off with the unconscious girl.
The officers got back into their cars and took off after the gangster.
Seeing that he was being closely followed, Saucerlip forced the sports car to go faster and faster. Presently he spotted a train crossing ahead, and a train coming down the track toward it. The girl woke up just as Saucerlip headed right toward the crossing, trying to beat the train which was rapidly approaching. The girl screamed as she saw the warning lights at the crossing blinking furiously. They weren't going to make it!
Suddenly 8th Man appeared. He raced toward Saucerlip's car just as it was about to reach the crossing at exactly the same time as the train. However, instead of colliding with the train, abruptly the car flew up over the train and the crossing.
It was 8th Man, underneath it holding it up!
A moment later 8th Man landed onto the road on the other side of the crossing, still easily holding the car up over his head. He tipped it slightly so that Saucerlip fell out and was knocked unconscious as he hit the pavement.
Putting the car down and seeing that the girl was unconscious also, 8th Man transformed himself back into Tobor. Momentarily the girl woke up and saw Tobor standing there.
"Oh, thank you!" she said to him. "You saved my life, and I owe you more than I can ever repay!"
At that moment the Chief ran up and saw Saucerlip lying on the road.
"You got him! You did it!" the Chief said. "I don't know how you did it, but you saved that girl's life and caught this crook!"
Then he took a good look at the man standing in front of him. "But – but – you look just like – Special Agent Brady!" he stuttered. "You're a ghost! You're Brady's ghost!"
"No – I'm not," Tobor replied.
"Then you must be a brother to Brady!" the Chief said. He indicated Saucerlip. "This is the man who killed him, you know!"
# # #
The next day, the Chief and Tobor were sitting together in Tobor's new office downtown. The lettering on the outside of the office's entrance door read TOBOR DETECTIVE AGENCY.
"So, from now on I call you Tobor. That's robot spelled backwards, isn't it?" the Chief was saying. "That was an amazing story you just told me."
"Yes, it's really unbelievable, but every word is true," Tobor replied.
"I'll keep your secret," the Chief assured him. He was very glad to have his best agent back again, even if Brady wasn't quite the same man he had been before. The Chief realized that Brady being a robot now would take a little getting used to – as would calling him by a different name. But he was glad to have Brady/Tobor back again regardless.
Tobor nodded. A moment later the same young girl that Tobor had rescued from Saucerlip the day before came into the room with a tray and two coffee cups.
"And who is this?" the Chief asked.
"You remember Jenny Hartsweet, the girl we saved from Saucerlip?" Tobor reminded him.
"Hello," Jenny said.
"She's my secretary now," Tobor explained.
The Chief drank some of the coffee that Jenny had given him, then rose from his seat.
"Well, I must be going," he said. He realized that he couldn't say anything more in front of Jenny without giving away Tobor's secret. "Thanks for the coffee." He headed for the door. "So long!" he told them. "Good luck!"
After he had left, Jenny sat down at her desk nearby. The phone rang, and she picked it up. For a moment she listened to someone on the other end.
"Mister Tobor," she finally said. Tobor turned toward her. "This client wants to speak to you about something important right away," she told him.
Tobor took the phone from her. "Tobor here. ... Yes, of course," he said into the receiver. "Right away."
After he made his apologies to Jenny, he left the office. Once outside he transformed himself into 8th Man, and sped away at incredible speed.
And so, I had put myself at the service of law and order. Working closely with Chief Tanaka of Metro International Crime Prevention, my life's work was cut out for me.
Various people on the street wondered what was going on as a super-fast, nearly invisible blur went by them, mussing their hair and blowing off their hats.
... And my adventures would prove to be more exciting than it is possible to imagine – as you shall see!