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First episode taken from The Hotspur issue: 929 August 28th 1954


Number 10 basin, off Hoboken, was not used as a berth for any of the larger liners that sailed out of New York, but the freighters which wharfed there were not tramp steamers. They averaged around 10,000 tons, and the s.s. Caviana was no exception.

She carried passengers and freight to South America, not many passengers, but a lot of freight. Some of this late freight was still being swung aboard by the cranes when a small studious man stepped out of the taxi-cab near the entrance gate and hurried towards the gangway. He was obviously afraid that he would miss the ship, and was very nervous. Twice he dropped his small suitcase and snatched it up again. He looked in horror at the crated car which was swung over his head, and started to run for the gangway. That was his undoing. He did not notice the coiled rope which had formerly been used as a warp, but which now some tidy longshoreman had left in readiness for the next incoming vessel. He ran right into it, fell, and his glasses were jolted from his nose. A member of the crew and one of the dockside police came to his assistance. He was shaking as they helped him to his feet—a pale, balding, short-sighted man with a slate-grey suit and a black tie. His black felt hat had been dislodged, and he brushed it with his sleeve when it was returned to him. “I—I’m afraid I’ve hurt my ankle!” he gasped, and would have fallen again if a sturdy arm had not been around him. It belonged to the dockside policeman. “Come in here and rest a minute, sorr,” he invited with a strong Irish accent. “The ship’s not goin’ for another ten minutes. I’ll send your bag aboard for ye.” “Thank you, thank you!” gasped the little man. “I’m professor Kramer, and it’s most important that I should catch the Caviana. I’m going on a holiday, and—” “Yes, sorr, of course ye’ll catch the ship,” the Irish policeman assured him, and took most of the professor’s weight as he helped him into the black-painted police box. “Now sit down an’ rest while I fetch your glasses an’ send the bag aboard. I’ll tell them you’re comin’.” A group of about a dozen assorted men had watched this episode. They saw the policeman call to one of the deck-hands to take the bag. “Tis belongin’ to a passenger called Professor Kramer, bound fer a place called Macapa!” he shouted, having read the label. “He’ll be along in a few minutes, but the poor gentleman has hurt his ankle.” The watchers turned away to give their attention to something else. Inside the police box Professor Kramer put his full weight on the “injured” leg and murmured—“Are you there?” There was a rustle in the background, and there appeared from behind the desk a man of about his own size, quietly, almost inconspicuously dressed, pale faced, with no noticeable feature whatever. He might have been anyone, in any kind of job, but few would have guessed that he was Jack Sim the G-man, one of the foremost Federal investigators in the employ of the U.S. Government. “I’m here, Professor. Take it easy,” he said. “You didn’t really hurt yourself, I hope?” “Only bruised my knee,” replied the man who was considered one of the world’s leading nuclear scientists. “I was afraid that I would not fall hard enough to make it look natural, Mr Sim, you will save my son, won’t you?”  Sim patted his arm. “Get out of those clothes!” he ordered. “We’ve got to change clothing—and quickly. They’re bound to have a spy down here on the quay watching for you to go aboard. You’ll have been followed here. Now they’ll be watching for you to come out and go on to the ship. There must be no hitch. It’s the only way to save your son and—perhaps save the world from another war!” Professor Kramer was already unbuttoning his jacket. “I hope I’m doing the right thing!” he gasped. My son—” “You are doing very much the right thing, Professor,” Sim assured him. “You are going to help us smash one of the most fiendish plots ever conceived. For over two years leading scientists all over the world have been vanishing. They have all been men working on guided missiles and new types of weapons connected with space travel. There was Professor Coppard, Dr Jules Alexander Phipp, and—” “Yes, yes, I know that, but my son Peter—” exclaimed the professor as he handed over his suit. “Wait, Professor, let me set your mind at rest as to the correctness of what we are doing. All these scientists have vanished. The British Secret Service and we F.B.I. men have been trying to get a line on their disappearance, and all the clues we have obtained point to South America. Something strange is going on down there. South America is a big place. We don’t know what’s happening and we don’t know where.” He was rapidly changing himself into a replica of the professor. “Yes, but—” began Kramer. Sim waved him to silence. Time was short, and he did not want to leave the professor in a bad frame of mind. “Recently your young son, Peter, went on holiday to Florida,” he continued. “You received a letter and a photograph of your son a few days ago telling you that he had been kidnapped and was being held as a hostage. You were told that if you wanted to save his life you were to pretend to go on holiday to South America. A steamer ticket—on the s.s. Caviana—was enclosed, to the port of Macapa, which is on the northern side of the Amazon delta, in Brazil.” “Yes, yes, but the letter said that if I got in touch with the G-men my son’s life would be forfeit! I do not know if I have done the right thing,” groaned the professor. Sim was now fully dressed as the professor had been, and was carefully parting his hair in the same way. “You did the right thing, professor. You did the right thing in coming to us. All that happens is that I go to Macapa instead of you and pretend to be you, whilst you leave here in my clothes when everything has quietened down, and go over the border into to Canada to the hide-out that we have arranged for you.” He donned the professor’s glasses and hat, and practised a limp up and down the floor. Sim looked out of the small window. The crane was swinging aboard the s.s. Caviana a long wooden crate. “Ye-es,” he said with finality. “I think I can assure you, professor, that your son will be safe, and one day the whole world will thank you for being so public-spirited. Here comes the cop!” He waved the professor into the background and limped forward as the door opened. “That was the siren! The ship is leaving!” he croaked in a very good resemblance of the professor’s voice. “My ankle is swelling, but if someone can help me to my cabin—it is most important—first holiday in ten years.” One of the bystanders came forward to help the dock policeman get the limping man up the gangway. At the top the stewards and the purser took charge of him and helped him down to his cabin on B deck. Five minutes later the s.s. Caviana sailed for South America.




Professor Kramer, as Sim had become, kept himself very much to himself during the voyage to Panama, and thence along the coast of South America. Occasionally he limped about the deck, getting some exercise, but his ankle obviously hurt him and he spent most of his time in a deck-chair in a secluded corner.


The titles of the books he read did not encourage anyone to talk to him. The s.s. Caviana was not a fast ship, and called at many ports. It was some weeks later when it put in at Macapa. There the “professor” wandered down the gang-plank to be met by a smiling Brazilian, who bowed and said— “Senor Kramer, you are welcome. It is too hot to stand around here. My car is ready to take you to your hotel. “But—” began the newcomer, “my heavy baggage!” “It is not unloaded from the ship until tomorrow. Please to come!” insisted the other, and hustled Sim into the vehicle. Five minutes later he was bowing to Sim outside the best hotel in the town, and advising him to rest until the heat of the day was over. “The velvet glove!” he thought as he went to the reception desk and learned that there was a room reserved for him. He was able to bath, change, and add some touches to his disguise as Professor Kramer, and was taking his ease in a long chair near the window when the phone in the room rang. The telephonist told him it was an outside call. “Professor Kramer,” said a quiet, toneless voice when he had been put through, “after dinner this evening you will tell the hotel clerk that you are going for a walk round the town. When you leave the hotel you will turn right—” “But—” interposed the supposed Professor Kramer. “If you want a certain person alive you will turn right,” continued the mysterious voice. “When you are hailed by a man in a car you will go with him. You understand.” “Yes, yes!” spluttered Sim, playing his part well. He shrugged as he hung up. He did not like being a helpless passenger, but that was what he had to be for the first part of this adventure. That evening he only pecked at the dinner provided, although he had a hearty appetite, and afterwards he sat over a coffee in the lounge for half an hour, then walked across the hotel foyer and said to the clerk—“If anyone wants Professor Kramer during the next hour, tell them I’ve gone for a walk round the town. “Very well, Professor!” acknowledged the clerk, and watched the slight, nervous figure go through the revolving door. Sim turned right along the busy boulevard. It was the busy hour of the evening, when everyone took advantage of the coolness to stroll about. Sim walked along slowly. Close to the kerb, and had not gone a hundred yards before there was the sound of smooth brakes operating alongside him, and a big black limousine slid to a standstill. “Oh, Professor!” called a stout, well-dressed man with a thick cigar. “We were looking for you.” Sim knew his cue. When the stout man got out he got in, and was not surprised to find another man sitting in the other corner of the seat, a man with hat tipped forward over his eyes, and only the point of his chin showing. The stout man got in and the car sped forward. “Er—excuse me!” began Sim, still pretending to be the professor. Something hard prodded him in the ribs. It was a gun in the hand of the man in the corner. “Shut up!” he said. Sim shut up. He sat there silently as the car left the lighted section of the town and doubled back through many dark, mean streets towards the waterfront. It stopped in the shadow of a warehouse close to the broad river. The stout man went through Sim’s pockets with rapid efficiency. Everything that interested his captors was taken out and examined. His wallet was emptied and thrown out on the river bank. His cigarettes, cigar-case and matches were returned to him. One of the men got out and jumped on Sim’s hat, then tossed it down not far from the empty wallet. All the time Sim tried to keep up the pressure of being the terrified professor. “Get back in that corner and stay there,” ordered the stout man. “Professor Kramer, you are a very clever man. In nuclear physics they say there is nobody more clever in the world, but we also are clever, ja! This evening you went for a walk. You do not return. The hotel people, they tell the police. The police search, and what do they find? Down here by the river they find your empty wallet and your battered hat. What do they think when they find no more? To themselves they say that this man—this American—he goes for a walk in a dark street and gets attacked by thugs.” The man spoke with a pronounced German accent. “Dear me!” murmured Sim, adjusting the glasses which were slipping from his nose. “But my son—” “You will see your son in due course, Herr Professor, but I must introduce myself. It is so awkward not to know names,” said the stout man, and he clicked his heels. “Herr Karl Frankk, with two letters ‘k’ if you please. With that he thrust Sim back into the car at gun-point, and the car took various turnings along the waterfront until it was nearly a mile up-river and amongst some trees. “Here we wait for a launch to fetch us,” murmured Frankk. He got out and proceeded to flash a light across the river, which was several miles wide at that point. Sim got the impression that the craft they wanted was somewhere in mid-stream, but he was concerned with other matters. He had been given back his cigar-case. It was true that it was the size of a cigar-case, and it contained three cigars, but it had not been made for that purpose. He slipped it on to the seat furthest from the silent gunman in the corner. He clicked it open, for it was time to call the Iron Teacher.   




Aboard the s.s. Caviana no attempt had been made to unload the contents of the baggage-hold. The stevedores only worked in the morning, and the ship had arrived during the afternoon, which meant that nothing would be done until the following morning, when it would be cool.


Most of the crew had been ashore for some hours, but a few, including watchmen, were lolling on the deck when from the open baggage-hold there came the sound of splintering wood. “What’s that?” asked a small, fat man. “Somethin’ breakin’!” “let it break!” growled his friend, and as that seemed to be the general feeling the first speaker subsided. Down in the hold one of the big packing cases was rocking and swaying. It was below some crates containing machinery, but it looked as though there was a wild animal inside it. The crate was made of inch-thick planks, nailed together with three-inch nails. The planks rose and split. A huge, steel hand, with fingers the size of bananas, came through the opening, and hurled the other cases aside. There was a tremendous clatter as the Iron Teacher first sat up, then rose to his feet. On the deck all the watchmen were now awake, but too frightened to move. As tall as a very tall man, with a box-shaped body, a cylinder for a head, and with articulated legs and arms, the Iron Teacher was made entirely of metal, and that metal was impervious to anything yet devised by man. It was Jack Sim’s own invention. It was the greatest crook-catcher in the world. The cigar-case of Jack Sim’s was a tiny control-board for the Iron Teacher. Inside the lid there was a TV screen with a magnifier to bring the detail to the level of normal sight, for it was very small, but at the moment Sim did not need to use the TV control. He had seen where the crate containing the Iron Teacher had been stowed, and he could visualize the open hold and the deck above. He played on the buttons as though they were piano keys, and all the time he looked as though he was anxious and terrified, for the benefit of his captors. The Iron Teacher’s glowing red eyes flickered on and off in response to the signals sent by the distant Sim. The steel giant found the ladder and began to climb. Under the nearby awning, a dozen men clung to one another and stared in horror as first the head and then the body of this amazing creation came in sight. The Iron Teacher stepped out on the deck, its feet making deep indentations in the planking. For a few moments it seemed to be staring at the petrified men. Then it walked to the side furthest from the shore, and calmly stepped over the edge into the river. There was a tremendous splash, and the robot vanished. Two of the onlookers fainted, and the rest stampeded towards the gangway in order to tell the police. They were all thrown into the calaboose for being mad! A mile up-river Sim was anxiously fiddling with his switches, and counting the strides the Iron Teacher made along the bottom of the river. To his horror he could hear a launch approaching, and not many minutes later the man in the corner prodded him with a gun, and ordered—“Out!” Sim thought quickly. The Iron Teacher had not yet arrived, and to go up-river without it would be fatal. Some kind of diversion had to be caused. He stepped out of the car, groaned, and fell flat. “What in the name of thunder and lightning—” began the man with the gun. “My ankle—I twisted it in New York, and now it’s gone again!” gasped Sim. The man with the gun snapped orders to the others who had arrived in a large launch, and after some delay two of the crew were sent to carry Sim aboard. The delay made all the difference. Finger-tip tremors on a button told Sim that the Iron Teacher was only fifty yards away, still walking along the bed of the River Amazon. Desperately he urged the Iron Teacher forward. Just before he was carried to the deck-house amidships, Sim saw a whirl of foam on the muddy surface of the water, and he knew that the robot was almost up with him. He guided the Iron Teacher to the weed-guard which surrounded the propeller of the launch. Its hands clamped on to the metal bars. Sim relaxed. Karl Frankk gave the order for the launch to head up-river. The powerful motor throbbed, and the craft moved towards midstream. Sim fell asleep.




It was daylight when Sim was roughly prodded awake by Herr Frankk. “We have arrived. It is time to get ashore,” he growled. Sim saw they were in a creek which was almost overgrown by trees.


He stumbled down the gangplank, and felt like pinching himself, for on either side stood groups of German S.S. men, in the uniforms and badges that Hitler had made infamous. Jack-booted, rigid, without expression, they kept their hands on their revolvers as they saw the newcomer pushed down the pathway towards the entrance to a huge barbed-wire enclosure. Sim did not have to fake his surprise. Here was a concentration camp such as had existed at Belsen and other places of ill-fame in Germany during the Nazi regime. Here were guard towers with machine-guns on the platforms, hard-faced men with steel helmets peering down from above, and in the background searchlights for use at night. There were three rows of barbed wire, and in each there was a guarded gate. The inside one was higher than the others, and there was a red warning notice saying that it was electrified. Sim was pushed and prodded towards a massive building which was half fortress, half prison. “The Fuehrer will see you!” growled Frankk. “But—but—Hitler is dead!” stammered the man who was pretending to be the Professor Kramer. “Imbecile!” roared Frankk. “Hitler was the first Fuehrer, but there is always a Fuehrer. Heil the Fuehrer!” Doors flew back at his shout, and they found themselves in a large, vaulted room where the walls, the roof, and even the tiles of the floor were decorated with the twisted cross, the swastika. At the end of the room, on a low platform. Was a huge desk, and behind this a big broad-shouldered man with bushy eyebrows, but now one hair on his massive, bald head. The lights glared down upon his head. Either real sunshine or sun-lamps had burnt him mahogany brown. The only things about him that were not brown were his eyes. They were completely without colour, like two globules of clear water set where eyes should be. The man behind the desk nodded to Sim. “So this is the famous Professor Kramer, the inventor of the Kramer triple-basis theory? You decided to do as we instructed, Professor?” “My son—” began Sim. “Quite! Quite!” nodded the Fuehrer. “We thought you would come. I might set your mind at rest by saying that your son is quite well—as yet. Of course, his future sate of health depends upon you. But I expect you will be wondering what all this is about. We are of course, Germans—Nazis!” he said. “When it became obvious that owing to the treachery of certain Generals the Third Reich was doomed, it was decided to send key Nazis abroad in good time to escape the fate of Hitler. We came to South America, to this place where you are now.” Sim felt a tingling down his spine. He had heard rumours of this for some years, and now he was face to face with reality. “Yes, we came here in submarines, with enough gold to buy all the land we needed,” continued the Fuehrer. “We came here with only one idea, that after Nazi Germany was beaten we would start anew, build up a Fourth Reich, and conquer the world. Of course we have not enough men to win wars and conquer the world by ordinary means. That is why we have turned to science. Just when the last war finished German scientists were working on an idea for building a space platform 200 miles above the surface of the Earth, where it would revolve like a satellite. Everyone knows these will be built sooner or later, as weather stations and the like, but our scientists had a special idea. They were going to build up there in space giant magnifying glasses—burning glasses. Through these the heat of the sun, undiluted by the Earth’s atmosphere, would have reached the Earth in concentrated form in such manner that we could have scorched any city, any country, out of existence.” Sim swallowed hard. “It was then only a theory,” went on the smiling Fuehrer, whilst all the jack-booted men stood to attention and listened respectfully. “But after the war, with the scientists who escaped from Germany, and with those we have—er—helped from other countries, we have perfected this idea. We are almost ready to launch it. You will come in useful for putting the finishing touches, Professor. Are you not proud to be given the honour?” Sim knew the Fuehrer was mocking him, but he swallowed and gasped—“Er—yes!” “Maybe you will wonder why I tell you so much of our intentions,” purred the Fuehrer. “It is very simple. I like a man to know why he is working, and what he is working for. You see, there will be no chance of you betraying us—ever!” There was silence in the great hall. Sim knew what the man meant. “But you will be wishing to see your son, Professor!” the Fuehrer was saying, and pressed a button on his desk. At the back of the hall a door slid back, and through it came two gigantic, Jack-booted S.S. men leading between them a defiant-looking, fresh-faced boy of about sixteen. He glared round the group of faces, and the smiling Fuehrer pointed to Sim. “Peter, we have a surprise for you—your father!” Sim felt his heart turn over. The boy looked at him coldly, and in a ringing voice declared—“He’s not my father!”


© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2006