Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 4: The Lord of Death
Indy reflexively jumped backwards against the double doors as shards of plaster splintered off of the cast in front of him. The bullet ricocheted off his arm and up past his face, impacting harmlessly with the ceiling above. The gunman opposite him stood motionless, as if working to process the idea that his point blank aim could be so bad as to leave Indy standing unhurt. Indy, on the other hand, breathed a quick word of thanks to Whoever might be listening and slammed his cast into the gunhand of the stunned assassin, knocking the weapon from his grip.
The Spaniard jumped back and refocused on disposing of the man before him - a man who seemed to have a terribly difficult time dying. He reached behind his back and pulled a blade from beneath his shirt. As Indy expected, it was similar in make to the ones he had seen just minutes ago.
The killer lunged and Indy side-stepped to the right. As the man passed along his left side, Indy slammed his cast down on the thug's head as hard as he could. The impact made a sharp crack, like a Babe Ruth homerun. The man fell to the floor in a noisy heap. Indy swore loudly and pulled his arm in tight against his side. The violence of the past few minutes had his fracture throbbing like a bass drum.
From beyond the doors there came an urgent pounding and the sound of a woman's voice. Indy wearily retried the key in the lock and the doors swung open easily. The beautiful young woman Indy had noticed working behind the information desk on his way in was standing there ashen and shaking, a look of unbearable worry on her face. <"Call the police,"> Indy ordered in Spanish. Then, he sat down wearily on the nearby step and waited for the inquisition to come.
Several hours later, the police completed their questioning of Indy and the girl and hauled the two surviving assassins away. The girl reported that she had seen Zamora - now dead - and Indy descend to the secure storage area earlier that morning, but that no one had entered before or since, other than the police.
Indy provided the best answers he could from what he knew and, upon completion of his interview, phoned Marcus at home.
"Marcus, I tell you, something sinister's going on here," Indy confided. "First Vagario and now Zamora. And I would've been part of that little burial service too if I hadn't gotten lucky." He glanced at his cast and shook his head in wonder.
"I understand, Indy," Marcus' voice crackled across the line. "So much the better to finish this up quickly and get you home. Don't take any unnecessary risks."
"I won't. But Marcus, I've got a suspicion that something's dirty here." Indy glanced across the lobby at the young woman so recently questioned by police. She sat weeping on a couch by the exit. "If I leave without these artifacts," he continued, "they'll never make it to the States. I'm gonna find out why."
"Indy . . . I appreciate that, but it's not worth it. Just sign for what seems like the best samples and get on the next plane-"
"Can't do that, Marcus. I'll contact you later when I know more. Good bye."
Indy hung up the phone and walked over to the couch, taking a seat beside the woman. She looked up at him sadly, her dark brown eyes glossy with tears.
<"What's your name?"> Indy asked quietly.
<"You liked your boss, didn't you?"> Indy said.
The woman nodded and choked back a rising sob. <"He. . .was a good man. What will the Museum do now? What will all of us do? We are all going to die!"> She lowered her face back into her hands, weeping so hard that she shook.
Indy frowned down at her, his fatigue overwhelming his patience. <"How do you think the killers might have gotten in?"> he asked firmly. <"The police say that you told them there aren't any other entrances into the basement.">
<"I don't know!"> she cried.
<"Zamora ever complain about those doors sticking before?"> Indy waited for a response, but the young woman ignored the question.
<"Answer me!"> Indy commanded, pulling her up by the shoulders to look him in the eye.
<"I don't know!"> She pushed Indy away, anger flashing in her eyes. Their intensity startled him. <"Maybe,"> she conceded, turning away from him again.
Indy sighed and rubbed his face. He was running on fumes and he knew it. No sense in taking out my frustration on the girl, he thought. <"I'm sorry,"> he said, rising to his feet. <"I'm going get a good night's sleep and come back here in the morning. I could use your assistance in cataloguing the pieces below if you're up to it. Consider it carrying out Zamora's last wish.">
The woman looked up at him thoughtfully, mulling the offer over, and then smiled. <"It is what Alejandro would have wanted."> She paused for a moment and then nodded, committing to the offer. <"Yes, Mr. Jones, I will help you.">
<"Excellent. Tomorrow then.">
<"Tomorrow,"> she agreed, rising from the couch. She escorted Indy to the lobby exit and waved as he ran down the steps to a taxi parked on the street. As the car pulled away, she quickly walked back to her desk and picked up the phone once more. . . .
The next morning's inventory had gone smoothly. As it turned out, Angelina knew enough English to speak with Indy comfortably. In short order, they found themselves working together like two gears in a clock, each in sync with the other.
As Indy neared the back of the basement, he spotted a second set of double doors with a padlock binding them shut. "What's in there?" he asked the woman. She hesitated before answering.
"That is where our. . . prize pieces are kept," she answered, avoiding his eyes.
Indy was dumbfounded. "Prize pieces! Couldn't you have told me that first thing this morning?"
Angelina looked up at him in shame. "I'm sorry Indy. It just hurts to give away so much of who I am."
Indy nodded thoughtfully. "I understand. But, Angelina, these pieces aren't going to be safe here anymore, obviously. We've got to move them to a more secure location. I guarantee, they'll be well tended in the States, with the utmost of care."
She sighed and nodded, a look of sorrow on her face. "I understand. It's just hard."
"I know," Indy said, taking her by the hand. "But please, let's finish it."
Angelina pulled a large iron key from her pocket and cranked it in the padlock, breaking it open. Together, they wrestled the large doors apart, the squeal of metal on metal echoing throughout the massive underground chamber. The room beyond brought Indy up short.
The thirty foot square room housed sturdy wooden shelves along the entire length of each wall. Every foot of the chamber was enhanced by the careful placement of a rare Spanish artifact of one sort or another. At a glance Indy saw fine paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, tools and historical pieces from every era of Spanish history. It was breathtaking. But above all else was the chamber's centerpiece. Standing like a guardian over the other treasures towered an eight foot tall statue cast in iron, remnants of silver plating evident in the folds of the subject's cloak and hair.
Indy walked around it slowly, his mind racing to recognize the impressive figure. It was a man, obviously of regal bearing, his cloak and hat of fine make, his features and neatly trimmed beard projecting the stature of great wealth. "Charles V?" Indy breathed softly, turning to Angelina.
"Yes," she said. "He is the prize of our collection."
Indy hooked his glasses over his ears and moved closer to scrutinize the impressive detail work. "This will bring 'em from miles," he murmured to himself.
"Pardon me?" Angelina said.
"Uh, nothing. It's just fantastic. I'm glad you showed it to me. God forbid something happen to this one." Angelina nodded silently. Indy's hands moved over the statue, memorizing the quality of the detail both visually and tactically. After a minute or two of scrutiny, he stopped short.
"It looks like there's some damage back here," he said, furrowing his brow. "There's a really deep crease in the fold of this cloak right here between the shoulder blades - almost like it's cracked." Angelina moved around behind Indy and looked over his shoulder at the damage he spoke of. "It's almost like a prybar was crammed in here-"
A small metal door swung open under his fingertips. But for the damage, it would have been invisible when closed, every side blending in seamlessly with the folds of the metal cloak. "What have we here?" Indy said. He pulled a lighter from his pocket, snapped it open and spun the wheel under his thumb. A strong yellow flame sparked up, illuminating the interior of the cavity. "Something's in here," Indy said over his shoulder as he reached inside.
Suddenly, as his fingertips touched the metal within, a spring-driven needle shot down from above, piercing the meaty pad between Indy's thumb and forefinger. He yowled in pain and tore his hand from the hollow, cursing. He tried to shake away the pain and then paused, looking carefully at the slender blade. A black, viscous liquid coated the tip, now dripping with Indy's blood. "Aw, Jesus," he said. A dark film wove across his eyes and he pitched to the ground, poisoned.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: May 27, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999