The Synthetic Men can be found in




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THERE is no greater secret that our scientists would like to learn than how life was formed. In that secret mag well lie the clue to the entire nature of the universe. We can guess that at some remote age, something happened to obit of lifeless material-thru some strange circumstances that we have never seen duplicated—hurt gave this material life. That some-ihing happened millions of years ago and the thing it gave life to became no more than a one-celled animal. We are its descendants, with our millions of cells, in specialized groups, complicated beyond belief.

What if a scientist by trial error, and experiment after experiment, should finally hit upon the secret and be able to make life synthetic-ally—would it be a blessing or a curse? Mr. Repp has his own answer to this question in the present story of thrills and chills.



GHOSTLY and weird was the laboratory in which Dr. Pontius labored from early morning until late at night on the delicate subject of life and all its intriguing mysteries. It would have been an excellent place for an exponent of black art or sorcery, and at this time the shadows of night had stolen into the room making it even more spectral. But the blackness was somewhat relieved by a single, frosted electric lamp that east a pale, phosphorescent glow over a paper-littered desk in a dismal corner.

Hanging along the wall on the right was a row of four human skeletons, complete and erect. On a massive shelf over these stood rows of colored bottles, each bearing at label identifying its contents. The shelf ran the entire distance around the room except where a lone door created a four-foot gap. Directly opposite the grisly human relics, and flanking Pontius' desk, rested two monster test-tubes of thick glass, large enough to accommodate the body of a full-sized man.

Due to the murky gloom of the place, it would have been hard to determine, at a first glance, just what the tubes contained, because they were half-hidden in the enveloping shadows. But a close observer would have been appalled to behold that each lube contained the nude body of a man, seemingly at rest, in the thick-jelly-like fluid that the tube contained. And if one had turned on one of the green-looking globes that hung suspended above each tube he would have been amazed to see the man's body become transparent, so transparent and seemingly delicate that the internal organs could be seen functioning with the steady precision of a watch!

Through the arteries of the bodies he would see coursing a peculiar pea-green fluid, that seemed to glow like liquid emeralds. In one body it flowed in a steady stream, but in the other it was sluggish and thick, gushing through the veins in quick, spasmodic jerks with each throb of a green heart that was located far up on the right side.

It was easy to see that this latter creature was on the verge of death. But the first, his rather cruel, sharp features appearing peaceful and calm, seemed as normal as a man asleep on his test. Both bodies erect, supported by the heavy-fluid, faced the laboratory in a way that Dr. Pontius could glance at either of them from his desk.

He was the son of the famous Edward Pontius, who in 1934 had startled the world with his discovery of the Q-Ray that he said was the wavelength of energy fundamental to the continuance of life. He had been besieged by the press, the government, and scientific societies to divulge his secret more fully, to tell from where this ray emanated and how it was produced. It was known that he had made some astounding experiments of the effect of Q-Rays on animals.

But Pontius refused to release his secret saying, "It is not ready for the world." And when he had passed on, his mantle was naturally worn by his son and scientific heir, the present Clifford Pontius.

Close associates knew that young Clifford had been trained from earliest youth on the mysterious experiments of his father; and when old Edward had died, Clifford, then twenty-six, had hidden himself from the world to "carry on", as he called it. Now Clifford, at the age of seventy, was about to reap the fruits of sixty-five years of unremitting labor between father and son.

A LITTLE less crusty than his father, he believed that the time had now come for the world, which had meanwhile forgotten him, to learn the result of-his discoveries. As he now sat at his desk, wearily slumped in his chair from an all-night' siege at his complete report, he awaited the arrival of a reporter whom his old friend Amesbury, editor of the Globe, was sending for the story. Pontius had chosen the Globe as his medium for the release of the secret to the world, because he knew he could trust the way Amesbury would handle it. There would be no sensationalism—just a simple recounting of the fact that with the continual experimenting of sixty-five years, he had been able to produce two mature, living, thinking, synthetic men!

Pontius looked up from his desk quickly at the sound of a muffled hell. He pressed a 'button on his desk, and a picture flashed on a little screen in front of him—showing a young man on the doorstep, hat in hand.

"Who is it?" asked Pontius into a little tube near his face.

The young man looked around startled. "Why—why, I'm Douglass of the Globe, wherever you are," he answered.

Pontius pressed another button that controlled an automatic electric lock on the outer door and waited. Presently, he heard scraping feet in the hall outside the laboratory and went to the door.

"Come right in, Douglass," he invited, peering through thick, octagon-shaped glasses at the rather tall but efieminate—lo o king young man who stood in the hallway. "I have been waiting for you."

"Thanks, Dr. Pontius," the reporter responded cheerily as he entered. "I'd have been on time but a traffic jam delayed me."

Dr. Pontius granted and slid into his swivel chair at the desk. Douglas sat down near hi m a n d glanced around the room. He was lean with dreamy eyes, but despite his effeminate appearance he seemed well able to take care of himself. Yet at the sight of the grinning skeletons and the synthetic men he gave a perceptible start. The scientist eyed him with a contemplating glance.

"Don't like them, do you, young man?", he asked seriously.

Douglass shuddered. "I always feel strange in the presence of human skeletons, Dr. Pontius; and these things", he added pointing to one of the creatures.

"Quite natural," said the scientist. "Every living thing has some horror for skeletons of its kind. Even a dog will avoid its dead. But you don't feel that way about my children," he smiled nodding toward the figures in the test tubes.

"They don't appear to annoy or bother you," the reporter commented. "Where did you get them—the skeletons?"

Dr. Pontius settled back in his chair and filled his pipe with the same deliberate coolness that he performed the other act.

"The first one is all that remains of 'Killer' Garth who was executed at Sing Sing five months ago," Pontius remarked casually.

Douglass's eyes flashed and he squirmed uneasily in his chair as he regarded the designated skeleton. Pontius continued: "Number two was an unidentified laborer who was drowned six months ago at Camden, New Jersey. Note the curvature of the vertebrae at the neck—"

"No thanks, Dr. Pontius," said Douglass, turning his head. "I've had enough. But why all the skeletons?"

Pontius realized that Douglass was purposely avoiding the subject of the meeting—his two synthetic men. He snapped a tiny lighter into flame and ignited his pipe, contemplated the reporter silently for a moment and then blew out a cloud of smoke. With a nod he drew the young man's attention to the test tubes.

"I am using them to obtain in the surrounding jelly a substance which I need for the making of my synthetic man." There, he had shot his bolt. He regarded Douglass' awestruck face as he continued. "In other words, the skeletons will dissolve into my fluid until they are all gone. The fluid will be enriched by a substance necessary to the production of life."

Douglass almost jumped out of his chair when he comprehended what the two test tubes in the shadow contained. He stared at them for fully five minutes. before it dawned upon him that the contents were really living men. His handsome face went strangely pale and took on a ghostly appearance under the glow of the feeble lamp that scarcely touched the gloom enshrouding the tubes. S0 this was the mysterious story Amesbury had sent him for!

But could it be true? He felt a shiver steal up his spine as he contemplated the grotesque creatures and turned quickly to see the scientist studying him intently.


"I DON'T envy your job," Douglass said in a half whisper. "But do you mean that you can make new men; living, thinking men out of that green jelly and bones?"

"Partly, yes," replied Pontius, sucking at his pipe. "The creation of life is no longer a mystery, at least to me, but the solution lies deeper than dead men's bones."

"Of course," commented Douglass with a strange sense of reality. "Still, I think, if I were you, I would be afraid of the wrath of the Super Intelligence that created all life at the beginning. Synthetic creation of human life by man, it seems to me., is a violation of all th...

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