Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 7: Fire in the Streets
Angelina moved to Vagario's desk and picked up the phone. While she dialed, Merida leaned back on the arm of his chair and watched Indy hastily gather his things. Truly, he found the archaeologist's recuperative powers astounding. "Tell me, Indiana," the investigator asked, "what do you expect to find? The last of our kings, Alphonso, fled to France six years ago. There's no telling what changes may have been made at the palace since his departure.
Indy nodded. "Yes, that's true. The palace opened for public exhibition in '33, I think. Is that right?" He looked to Merida for confirmation and received a slight nod in return. "And since '36, the start of the Civil War, it's been closed back up for safekeeping. I'd bet that in the three years it was open, things weren't altered substantially. The provisional government was brand new, and a large segment of the population probably anticipated a return to the monarchy if it failed. No, I expect things have been pretty much left as they were."
"And you'll get in to see the map room how exactly?"
"I've got connections," Indy answered, enigmatically.
After making a brief but important phone call, Indy grabbed his hat and walked to the lobby. At the curb, the requested taxi idled loudly. Angelina sat waiting within. Indy turned to Merida, pausing as he pushed open the door. "Sure you don't want to come with us?"
"No, my friend, thank you. I have some business to attend to, I'm afraid. Perhaps I'll meet you and Ms. Morales for dinner, and you can tell me all about what you find."
Indy nodded and shook Merida's hand, then bounded down the steps to the waiting cab. He slid in next to Angelina as she gave the address to the cabbie, who looked back to see if she was serious. She raised her eyebrows in annoyance and the driver grunted, mashing down on his accelerator. They leapt into the flow of traffic with a jerk.
Angelina turned to Jones then, and spoke in a whisper. "Indy, I still don't understand. How will we get into the palace? It is closed to all but government officials."
"Trade secrets, honey. If I told you, I'd have to eliminate you." Angelina looked at him squarely, brow furrowed as if trying to gauge his seriousness. He smiled in response. "Sorry, Angelina. I'm really not at liberty to discuss it. Let's just say I have some old friends in town who owe me one."
She sniffed in irritation and turned away to look out the window on her left. This man is insufferable, she thought, the grim line of her mouth curling up slightly as she did so.
Indy noted the reflection of her expression as he looked into the street beyond the glass. There was no way for her to know - and no way he could tell her - that 20 years earlier as a spy for the Belgian army, Indy had assisted Spain in thwarting a German plot against the State. And indeed, there were favors he had yet to call in - still good even now, a generation after the war. He continued to watch the image of her dark, beautiful eyes gaze outward, a glimmer of sadness filling them. Intriguing woman, Indy thought. Awfully intriguing.
They traveled quietly for a time, with only the sounds of the driver's discordant humming and the occasional honk of a passing car disturbing their thoughts. The peacefulness of the drive surprised Indy. In a city so large, how there be so little traffic? Then, as if in response to his question, the heavy shadow of a black sedan darkened the window next to him and matched speeds with the taxi.
Indy pulled back instinctively just as a bullet punched through the glass, sending spider-web fractures outward from the point of impact. He felt the snap of air across his face as the projectile raced past him and flattened against the metal doorframe next to Angelina. She screamed in surprise and terror. Indy pushed her over into something like an airplane crash position and scrunched down into his seat as far as he could.
The cabbie, letting out a roar of anger, reacted as if the gunmen were attacking his car, and not the passengers inside it. Before Indy could even order him to move, the driver crushed his accelerator to the floor and swerved across the lane into oncoming traffic. It occurred to Indy at that moment that, yes, the streets had plenty of cars on them. What had he been thinking?
The sedan followed suit, bashing aside smaller cars to either side, the driver caring about neither whom he hit, nor whom might be watching.
Meanwhile, the cabbie maneuvered out of the path of an oncoming milk truck and into a nearby alleyway. In the following moment of relative peace, he hunched down to reach under his seat. Indy used the opportunity to glance out the rear window. Behind them, the sedan continued its pursuit, crashing through a vendor's vegetable stand on its way into the alley. Although the windows appeared to be darkened, obscuring the driver from Indy's sight, two rough-looking men leaned out of both the front and back windows on the passenger's side, a third from the rear window on the driver's side. Each clearly brandished a heavy revolver, although at this distance Indy couldn't determine the make.
The men fired, one after another, and the rear windshield of the cab exploded inward, dowsing Indy with chunks of glass. "Can't you go any faster?" he yelled at the driver. In response, the cabbie sat upright, gunned the engine and tossed back an American-made .38 - until recently hidden beneath his seat.
"Hey, it's Christmas!" Indy whooped. "Gracias." The cabbie grunted in response and lit himself a cigarette.
Both cars continued racing down the alley, engines roaring. The taxi driver honked his horn continually as a warning to nearsighted pedestrians and people hauling garbage down the back steps to their metal waste cans outside. Angelina tried to sit up, but Indy put his hand between her shoulder blades and shoved. "Stay down!" he ordered.
As the gunmen behind them paused between rounds, Indy took note of how narrow the alley really was. He took careful aim with the .38 and squeezed the trigger. The first shot missed its target, but the second one scored, impacting at over 700 feet per second against the thick skin of the driver's-side front tire. It flew apart into irregular chunks of rubber. The loss of the tire forced the sedan into a swerve, where it slammed up against the alley wall. The lone gunman leaning out on that side found himself caught between the steel frame of the massive car and the wall of bricks. His scream of pain broke off in a gurgle as the force of the wall's drag on his body pulled him from the car. Indy winced as the would-be assassin fell beneath the sedan's rear wheels. He hadn't quite expected that to happen, but if it meant staying alive, so be it.
The sedan fell behind, with only a few of the remaining gunmen's wild shots even grazing the back of the cab. Indy turned forward in his seat, relieved, just as it appeared that the alley was finally coming to an end.
As the taxi began to slow, a second sedan pulled across the alley opening, blocking them in. Two men jumped from the rear of the car and Indy's eyes widened. Both of them wielded Thompson submachine guns, held low, just above the line of their hips. Indy ducked left, covering Angelina's body with his own as the assassins opened up, both weapons chopping the air into a hot whirlwind of smoke and glass. The cabbie cried out briefly, his head and torso snapping to and fro under the lengthy barrage.
Indy gritted his teeth, and brought his legs into position to launch himself backward. For a moment, the shooters paused in their attack allowing the smoke to clear. Indy took the opportunity to jump up and through the fragmented rear window, sliding painfully down the trunk. The startled gunmen opened up once again as he fell awkwardly to the pavement.
Jones growled in rage as another heap of glass showered down upon his head and neck. He lay flat on the ground and aimed beneath the undercarriage of the car at the ankles and shins of the men before him. He squeezed off three measured shots and the killers screamed in harmony, both of them falling to the ground to cradle their injured legs.
Indy pushed himself up and shook the shards and chips of glass from his hair and clothing like water from a dog's fur. Angry shouts and the sound of pounding feet made him turn, gun at the ready. The driver and the remaining gunmen from the first sedan were racing down the alley toward him.
Indy ran around to the passenger door and yanked it open. Angelina looked up at him with a startled gasp and then just stared, her mouth dropping open in disbelief. The "Oxford scholar" of the past two days had been replaced by a cold, hardened mercenary, his clothes torn and soiled with grime from the street, blood - much of it not his own - streaked across his face and neck. "Indiana," Angelina began, dazedly watching the smoke from his gun curl upwards, "are you alrig-"
Indy grabbed her by the arm and pulled her from the car. "Gotta go," he said, pointing down the alley at the oncoming assassins.
Angelina nodded and ran to a door along the alley wall. "Try here," she said. Indy kicked the light wood panel door open easily and motioned for her to get inside. She did, and he followed close behind, breaking open the taxi driver's gun to confirm the number of rounds remaining. A grimace crossed his face - every chamber was spent.
Cursing softly, Indy led Angelina down the long shadowed corridor ahead. Flaking white paint, gray with age, covered the walls in patches from baseboard to ceiling. The wooden floor creaked under their feet, announcing every step.
Suddenly, an enormous black mastiff leapt from a nearby alcove, snapping at Indy's throat. Hot saliva peppered the archaeologist's face and he yelled in surprise, slamming backwards against the opposite wall. Paint flakes sprinkled down on his shoulders and hair like dirty snow.
Angelina screamed as the dog bared its jagged teeth and barked in anger. It leapt once more, but drew up short of Indy's neck, the chain tethering it to the far wall drawn taut. Indy slowly lowered his cast from its defensive position in front of his face and breathed a sigh of relief. He noticed, however, that the eyebolt anchoring the dog's restraining chain shifted in the wall each time the beast lunged. "We really need to get out of here," he whispered to Angelina.
Putting his gruesome thoughts aside, he moved around the corner to the end of the hall. Blocking further passage stood a heavy wooden door. Indy tried the handle and found it locked. He took a step backwards and shouldered it, but the portal hardly vibrated.
Just then, over the growls of the dog, Indy heard the remains of the flimsy outer door swing open. He shot a quick glance around the corner to confirm the advance of the three gunmen. We need more time, he thought, glancing around for something he could use as a weapon. But the hall was empty.
The men approached the alcove slowly as the dog once again began to bark and lunge wildly. The chain holding it back only partially convinced the assassins of their safety, and they spent a minute debating what to do. Finally, Indy heard one of them give the order:
< "Just shoot it!" >
I don't think so, Indy thought. He spun around the corner and leaped into the alcove behind the distracted dog. The surprised gunmen raised their pistols from the beast to Jones, just as he slammed the butt of his revolver down on the loose eyebolt in the wall. Assisted by the mastiff's muscular lunges, the bolt tore from the plaster and wood with a ripping sound.
The beast exploded upon the men like a lighting strike and they found themselves caught once again with their guns aimed at the wrong target. They fell backwards in a panic-ridden scramble, wild shots plugging into the wall above and around Indy's crouching form.
He jumped up and ran back around the corner to where Angelina stood pounding on the wooden door. Within moments, the door swung open and Indy found himself looking into the face of an old, and very angry, priest wielding a scattergun.
< "What in the name of Heaven is going on out here!" > he bellowed.
Indy stared at the mouth of the shotgun and spoke very slowly. < "Uh...hello, Father. We seem to be in a bit of -" >
< "Oh, Indy, for the love of..." > Angelina interrupted, moving between the archaeologist and the priest. < "Father," > she said, < "we need your help. There is fighting taking place in the alley. I fear the church is under attack by Insurgents!" >
The old man's eyes widened with rage and he pushed past them into the hallway. "Father, wait!" Indy yelled, fearing for the priest's safety.
At the corner, the old man raised his shotgun and roared. < "Away from that dog, foul scum! You shall not spill blood in the house of God!" > A bullet slammed into the wall next to his head as the assassins, wild with panic, shot at every threat they could see. In response, the priest pumped off two rounds from his shotgun - apparently seeing fit to ignore his own exhortation - and charged down the hallway. Indy followed him around the corner only to see he and his dog run through the doorway into the alley, chasing the killers as if their own personal plague.
Indy ducked back around to the door and moved inside. He found himself in a rectangular storage room full of the paraphernalia commonly used by the Catholic Church during services. Opposite him at the other end of the room stood an open door. He walked to it and looked out.
Beyond, a magnificent sanctuary yawned like a natural cavern, startling in its expansiveness. "Wow" was all Indy could think of the say.
Angelina stood gazing at the altar, but turned at the sound of his voice. "Beautiful isn't it?" she said. "I used to come here as a child."
Indy looked around slowly and nodded, taking care to study the minute detail of the wall carvings and stained glass. It was stunning. A monstrous wooden cross hung high on the wall beyond the altar, the statue of Christ bolted to it creating a striking image of power and sorrow. The sun filled the southern windows high up on the walls, puncturing the room with angled shafts of colored light.
"In the fall," Angelina explained, "the lights change position and color as the sun moves across the sky." She spread her arms and spun about within one of the beams, her white dress turning blue as it twirled about her legs. "It's really something special."
"I bet it is," Indy mused, thinking thoughts no righteous man would dare in a house of God.
It was then that the double doors at the front of the church burst inward. One of the shooters from the sedan - the only one left apparently - came stumbling inside, clothes torn, blood at his temple and wrist. A smile crossed his face and he wearily brought his revolver to bear on Indy. The archaeologist turned to the cross on the wall and spread his arms in exasperation as if to say "What? What did I do?" Then he grabbed Angelina's hand and pulled her along toward a small door on the other side of the sanctuary.
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" Indy pleaded, motioning to their surroundings. The thug paused, concern for his spiritual wellbeing somehow more pronounced now that he was in the presence of a seven foot tall Jesus.
In that moment of hesitation, Indy and Angelina pushed through the small door and into what looked like the base of a bell tower filled with crates and equipment. A worn iron ladder, bolted to the far wall, led up through a hole in the ceiling. Indy made a quick decision.
"Hide back behind those crates," he said. "I'll lead him up the ladder to the top of the tower. Once he goes through that hole, you run for it and get help."
"Just do it, okay? Trust me." He ran the back of his hand along the skin of her cheek.
"Alright," she said, the hint of an embarrassed smile at the corners of her mouth. "But be careful." She pulled his head down to her level and kissed him hard on the mouth. Before he could respond, she pushed him away and squeezed in amongst the crates at the back of the room. Indy grinned and jumped on the ladder, climbing awkwardly to the second level just as the door to the sanctuary banged open.
The soft pad of footsteps moved about the room, as if searching. Indy kicked the rung beneath where he stood, hoping to lead his pursuer in the right direction - away from Angelina. He climbed to the third level of the tower and pushed open the trap door at the ladder's terminus. The assassin below him cried out in broken English. "Hey American! I seeeeee yoouuuu!"
Indy pulled himself up onto the open-air platform of the bell tower as the crack of a revolver echoed up the shaft. Wood splintered into fragments next to Indy's right hand and he rolled to the side. He chanced a quick glance down the ladder and, as hoped, found his pursuer climbing after him.
Indy stood and moved to the far side of the platform, narrowly skirting the large brass bell hanging from a wooden crossbeam that bisected the tower's roof. At the platform's edge, he climbed over the waist-high safety railing and began to pull himself up onto the raised, slanted roof, forty feet above the cobbled street below. It was difficult going, his cast making the climb more precarious than it should have been. It was only when he found himself halfway up with neither the strength nor leverage to go forward or back, he realized his mistake. He was a sitting duck.
And at that exact moment of lucidity, the clay shingles beneath his feet broke free from their place on the roof. With a cry of surprise, Indy slid down the apex of the tower and shot outward into the open air, with only the street below to catch him.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: June 17, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999