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The Mind Machine — Epilogue
by Tom Nichol

Based on the episode of the same name from the
Adventures of Superman

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This episode was written and filmed during the series’ first season, which was notably darker in tone than subsequent seasons. This was also during the time when science-fiction films were all the rage in Hollywood, and other science-fiction television series as “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” and “Science Fiction Theatre” followed in the footsteps of such episodes as this one.]

Seven weeks had passed since gangster Lou Cranek and his mob had kidnapped Dr. Edward Stanton and stolen the “Neuro-Hypno-Transfer Machine,” which Dr. Stanton had been working on for the last five years. Despite the efforts of Dr. Stanton and his assistant, Dr. John Hadley, to keep their research a secret, Cranek and his gang had found out about it, and had kidnapped Dr. Stanton and stolen the pilot model of his machine. Although Dr. Stanton had intended for the device to be used only for therapeutic purposes, Cranek had used it ruthlessly to destroy the minds of those who were testifying against him at a series of hearings then being held by the State Crime Commission.

He had been on the verge of using the machine on Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane when Superman had arrived and thoroughly trounced Cranek and his gang.

Stanton, taking full advantage of the situation, had destroyed the machine, thereby preventing Cranek or anybody else from misusing it any further. In the hearings, and subsequent criminal trials, that had followed, Cranek and his gang had all been convicted of kidnapping and murder, and had all been firmly sentenced to death in the electric chair.

With the trials now over, and Cranek and his gang now awaiting execution, Clark, Lois, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White were in Perry’s office, discussing how best to write an article that would properly close out the case. Although naturally Cranek’s lawyers had appealed the gang’s convictions, one appellate court after another had firmly upheld the convictions. The U. S. Supreme Court was now examining the case, but was expected to refuse to hear it, thereby exhausting the Cranek gang’s final appeal, and clearing the way for their execution.

In the midst of this discussion, Inspector William Henderson, of the Metropolis Police Department, unexpectedly walked into the office. He sank into the only available chair in the office with a gray pallor on his face that none of the others had ever seen before. Sensing that bad news was in the offing, Clark inquired gently, “Is something wrong, Inspector?”

Very wrong, Clark,” Henderson replied. He paused for a moment, then, with a deep sigh, he went on, “I’ve just come from Dr. Stanton’s office, after his assistant, Dr. John Hadley, called me in an understandable panic. Dr. Stanton committed suicide early this morning. Hadley found his body, along with a suicide note, on the floor of the office when he arrived.”

WHAT??” the four journalists cried out in dismay, as they all rose to their feet.

Bill, what happened?” Clark asked, as he and his colleagues slowly resumed their seats.

Well, after talking with Dr. Hadley—whom we have already cleared as a suspect, let me hasten to add—it seems that Dr. Stanton fell into an intractable state of depression after he witnessed what Cranek had done with his machine. As you know, when Superman rescued him, he forcefully declared to Superman that he would never build another machine like it, even though Superman pointed out to him that virtually any new development or technology can be misused. Stanton, however, now felt that the dangers posed by a machine such as the one he had been working on, far outweighed any potential benefits. As a result, once the trials of Cranek and his gang were over, he burned all of his research notes and destroyed all the materials he had used in developing and testing the machine. He even went so far as making Dr. Hadley swear that he would never make any attempt to develop such a device himself. Then, after all of that, and apparently fearing that someone else might attempt to kidnap him and force him to rebuild his machine, Dr. Stanton took his own life early this morning.”

With those words, Henderson, clearly badly shaken, put his face in his hands. Although as a police officer he had grown accustomed to the sight of death, this case was different, and it showed in both Henderson’s words and his actions.

There was a long period of silence in the room as Clark, Perry, Lois, and Jimmy all strove to process what the Inspector had just told them. Then, as the others shook their heads in sorrow, Henderson concluded, “There was one final line in Stanton’s suicide note, which he may have intended as a warning to all of us—and especially to anyone who might seek to follow in his footsteps in the future!”

What did he say, Inspector?” Perry inquired.

It was a direct quote of Claude Rains’s final words in his performance in the movie ‘The Invisible Man’, back in 1933: ‘I meddled in things that man must leave alone!’”

Wordlessly, the four journalists nodded their heads. Six months later, Lou Cranek and his ‘partners in crime’ were each put to death in the electric chair, once again bearing out the truth of the words of Sherlock Holmes: “Violence does in truth re-coil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another!” Thus, the tragic case of the so-called “Mind Machine” officially came to a close.

Posted: December 10, 2020

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