Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 3: Into the Snake Pit
Indy's connection from London arrived in Madrid at 11:15am. It had been a long, red-eye flight from the States through a brutal North Atlantic storm. Indy had only just arrived and already he was exhausted. He sighed wearily and asked the porter to flag down a taxi. With luck, the Museum would be ready for his visit and each piece would be inventoried already. Just let me check off the ones I want, Indy thought, and then show me to a nice hot shower and a nice cool bed.
During the cab ride, Indy studied the people walking the streets with interest. They moved slowly, shoulders hunched forward as if to shield their hearts from one another. Who was a member of the Popular Front? Who supported The Nationalists? It was a civil war with boundaries so fluid and easily traversed that common folk found themselves hiding from their neighbors as much as from strangers. It struck Indy that although the process of war took many forms it left the same indelible scar on most everyone involved, particularly the civilians caught in the middle.
Enough of this, he thought. "How much further?" he asked the cabbie in Castilian.
The driver's response came in broken English. "Nearly there, Senor. Only a few minutes away now. You coming to Madrid for museum work?"
"Yes." Indy leaned back and tried to relax.
"So, what you going to do here? Going to look for sculptures, maybe? We have beautiful Lady of Elche."
Cabbies are the same no matter where you go, Indy thought, grimacing. "No, I'm just here to assist with an inventory. Very boring stuff. I'd better make sure my papers are in order." In the hopes of discouraging any more conversation, Indy pulled out some official looking documents and pretended to read them intently. The driver shrugged and went back to concentrating on the road.
Minutes passed, until Indy's thoughts were broken by the ache in his arm. He looked up to ask the cabbie how much longer it would be, just as the taxi rolled to a stop at the curb. There before him stood the Museum, a monstrous assemblage of granite and marble, it's extravagant beauty marred by the obvious scarring of bullet ricochets and powder burns.
"You are here, sir," the cabbie announced. "You are happy with the ride?"
"It was great. Thanks." Indy pushed forward a wad of peseta into the driver's hands, grabbed his bags and stepped out of the car. "Keep it," he said before change could be made.
"Gracias, Senor!" The cabbie thumped his horn twice and moved away from the curb, back into the flow of traffic.
Indy walked up the steps to the large doors of the museum. He was greeted at the door by a barrel-shaped man in suspenders and waistcoat, wire-rimmed glasses perched halfway down his nose. The man hailed Indy and grabbed his hand warmly.
"You must be the famous Indiana Jones, yes?" Indy nodded as the man shook his hand with violent friendliness. "I am Alejandro Zamora. My dear friend Marcus has spoken to you of me?"
"Yes. It's very good to meet you." Indy politely freed his hand, walked past Zamora into the main hall of the building and withdrew the official inventory papers from his case. "Shall we get right to it?"
"Oh, Senor Jones, I was so hoping we could talk for awhile. I have heard many great stories about you. And yet, here you are, looking for all the world like a scholar from Oxford. It is too hard to believe!"
"Yeah, well, maybe later. Right now, I want to take care of business."
Zamora spread his hands in a gesture of surrender and turned toward a broad stairway leading down, deep into the museum's lower level. "Please, follow me. Ever since Carlos' death, I've had all of our most valued pieces moved into secure storage. You can catalogue them there."
"If I might ask, how did Mr. Vagario die?"
"Badly," Zamora replied flatly. "He left the museum late one night two weeks ago. It was the last time any of us saw him alive. Then, a few days later, an unmarked parcel was delivered here to my attention. Within were his pocket watch, some teeth and two of his fingers. Also, a photo of his body, covered in blood. A message on the back of the photo read 'The first door to the prison of our past has been opened. How many more will bar The People's way?' Very strange words, but within the week, each of the museum staff had received a much more descriptive threat. Since Carlos was no longer . . . available, I decided to carry on with my plans to safeguard the museum's artifacts and called Marcus. I must say, although he was sorry about Carlos' death, he was more pleased than ever about the possibilities of our arrangement."
"Yeah, well, Marcus sees the value of protecting your nation's heritage, to say the least."
The two men continued down the stairs into the bowels of the museum. Once they had dropped from sight of the main room, an attractive young Spanish woman, working behind the information counter, picked up a phone and dialed a quick flurry of numbers. Before the first ring ended, the line picked up.
"Yes?" a rasping voice asked.
"The American is here. Zamora just took him into the secure room."
"Good. You know what to do."
The young woman nodded silently and laid the phone back in its cradle. Then she moved from behind the desk, walked to the edge of the stairs and looked down. No one stood between her and the doors below. With a casual glance about the main hall, she descended the steps. The doors, as they automatically did upon closing, were locked tight. Zamora had a key, she knew, so as planned, she pulled a heavy metal crowbar from its hiding place within a nearby janitorial closet and threaded it through the handles of the two doors. Then, without the least bit of conscience, she turned and walked back up the steps, her task complete.
Indy walked slowly down the aisles of the dim and dusty museum storage facility, following close behind Zamora's bulky form. Truly, Indy found himself liking the man in spite of his own weariness and irritable mood. Zamora knew his history and had a good story for every piece on display.
"Feel free to spend the day making whatever observations and notes you feel necessary. There's a desk at the back of the office we just walked by. Also - and you may find this worthwhile - there's a cot behind the shelves at the back wall." Zamora grinned at Indy and the archaeologist couldn't help but nod his thanks. "When you're ready to exit this secure area, push the buzzer in the office and I'll come down and let you out."
"Perfect, Mr. Zamora. I appreciate all your--" Indy cut his thanks short and cocked his head as if listening. "Did you hear that?"
"No. What do you mean?"
Indy held a finger to his lips. "You said we're alone down here, right?" Indy whispered. Zamora nodded. "Wait here."
Indy stepped away from the curator and moved quietly along the shelves nearest his left side. Between the boxes and display cases he saw a flash of movement in the adjacent aisle, followed by the patter of feet. Damn, he thought. What's going on? Suddenly, a cry sounded behind him and he spun around. Zamora pitched forward into the aisle, smashing into and through a line of shelves. Pottery and sculpture shattered beneath him as he fell heavily to the ground, a wicked steel knife protruding from between his shoulder blades.
"Zamora!" Indy ran towards the man, his hand instinctively reaching for the gun he kept holstered about his waist. It wasn't there, of course. Indy had dressed for business, not combat. As he neared the curator's side, a figure sprang from the shelves above him, dragging him roughly to the ground. Indy landed hard on his cast and bellowed in pain. "Son of a --" The assassin hammered a fist into his face, brass knuckles creasing the bridge of his nose with a welt of blood. Indy gasped and turned on his back. The man held him down by the throat with one hand as his arm reared back for a crushing blow. Indy's good arm flailed back and forth desperately, hunting for a weapon. As the thug drove his fist downward, Indy shoved a china plate between them. The impact shattered it into splinters, but deflected the blow from his face.
Another Spaniard rushed around the corner wielding a knife similar to the one sticking from Zamora's back. Indy squirmed in desperation, the constriction of his windpipe sapping his will to fight. As this second assassin drove his knife down into the archeaologist's face, Indy brought up his cast like a shield. The blade skittered off the hard plaster impotently.
The killer sitting on top of Indy shook off his brass knuckles and wrapped both hands around the archaeologist's throat. Indy pushed against him with his cast as the knife wielder stepped back, admiring his partner's brutal work. Indy's vision began to blacken. With a final effort he blindly grabbed whatever object lie within reach and brought it forward into his strangler's face.
A shriek tore through the chamber and the rough hands leaped from Indy's throat. He opened his eyes and sucked in hungry breath of air. The man over him fell backwards and clawed at his face madly, a 17th century letter opener jutting from one eye. Indy kicked the man to the side and rolled over.
The remaining assassin, no longer grinning, charged Indy, blade in hand. Indy scrambled under the lowest shelf of the wooden display case and into the adjacent aisle where he quickly regained his feet. He picked up a heavy sculpture about the size and weight of a plumber's wrench and swung the stone weapon like a club, his arc timed to impact with the killer just as he bolted around the corner. With a dull thud, the weapon slammed down upon the man's shoulder, snapping his collarbone like a bundle of dry twigs. The assassin dropped to the ground, moaning in pain. Indy rapped him on the head once to ensure he stay down, then ran around the aisle to where Zamora lay.
The curator wheezed heavily, still alive, but dying. "Here," he said weakly. "Get help." He handed Indy the storage room key. Indy grabbed it and sprinted down the main aisle, sliding into the double doors leading to the main hall. He used the key and pushed. They gave an inch and then stopped. Indy shoved harder but they still wouldn't open. Then, a nearby voice spoke over Indy's labored breathing.
"Dr. Jones, I'm sorry it has to end like this. We were hoping for something quieter." Indy spun about to face this new threat just as the flash and crack of a gun exploded into his chest.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: May 21, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999