Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 8: A Bird's Eye View
Indy twisted his body in mid-air, flinging his good arm back towards the bell tower in desperation. His fingertips skimmed against the edge of the safety railing, but he failed to gain a purchase. As his body continued its descent past the open-air level of the tower, he stretched out as far as he could and succeeded in just barely catching the lip of a windowsill with his hand. His body swung down and slammed hard against the bell tower wall. He bellowed in pain.
Indy hung there by one hand, unable to pull himself up, and with no way to lower himself down. He fingers immediately began to sweat and cramp, his grip growing more precarious every second.
At the hail, Indy looked up to see his pursuer leaning over the railing, waving down at him with a stupid grin tattooed across his face. Indy lifted his left arm up and presented the killer with his middle finger. The thug's smile wrinkled away as he aimed the barrel of his gun at Indy's head. The archaeologist looked down and tucked his face in against his right arm while covering the top of his head with his cast.
A shot rang out and Indy flinched, readying himself for the fall. He hoped that the bullet would kill him before he smashed into the cobblestones below. A moment passed. Indy slowly acknowledged the fact that he felt only the ache in his fingers and arm - no bullet damage. He chanced a glance upward. The Spaniard appeared to have vanished.
A familiar voice called out from the street below. "Indiana, hold on! I'll be right up!"
Indy looked down in time to see Esteban Merida holster his gun and run toward the church entrance. Then he closed his eyes and concentrated on keeping his grip for as long as it took....
Merida quickly climbed to the tower's upper level, cut the rope connected to the bell and pulled it up the tower's interior. He tied a loop in one end and lowered it down to Indy. Indy stuck his foot in the loop while Merida threw the remaining slack over the crossbeam of the roof. He hooked a leg over the safety rail on the opposite side and readied his grip on the cable.
"Indy," he called, "I have you! Grab the rope!"
Indy took hold of it with his left hand and, acknowledging the leap of faith he was about to take, let go with his right hand, transferring it to the rope as well. He sank briefly as Merida adjusted for the slack, and then, slowly, Indy began to rise. He pushed lightly with his foot against the tower wall as if he were repelling - only in the wrong direction.
The strain of Merida's efforts were clearly audible as with each muscular tug the investigator let out a groan. "Indy...lose...some...weight!" he breathed between pulls. Finally, Indy reached the lip of the open-air level of the bell tower and grabbed ahold of the safety railing above his head. With Merida's help, he swung first one leg, then the other over onto the solid wooden floor.
Both men sat and rested, Indy with his back against the railing, Merida facing him. Beside them, the body of the assassin rested unmoving in a widening pool of blood, a bullet hole visible in his neck. Indy noted the corpse with a nod. "Thank you for that," Indy said sincerely. "I was a little worried there for a minute. Thought I might have to really get rough with the guy."
Merida chuckled sadly. "It's a bitter irony that my own countrymen see fit to kill someone who's goal it is to help us all. You were lucky."
"I know. How is it you were on hand to save my bacon anyway?"
Merida shrugged. "Good timing really," he said. "I finished the phone call I needed to make and figured I'd try to catch you both at the palace. My drive took me right past this church, and I just happened to spot Angelina running from the entrance in my rearview mirror. I stopped the car, got out and who do I see climbing on the roof...?" Merida motioned toward the archaeologist with a humorous gleam in his eye. "Apparently it takes more than a broken arm, a beating and a dose of poison to keep you from climbing about like a ruffian school boy."
Indy laughed softly. A sound came from the access shaft and both men turned to see Angelina climb out onto the roof. She rushed over to where Indy lay.
"I've called for an ambulance Indy," she said. "They'll be here in a minute or two."
"Booshwah!" Indy growled, waving off the suggestion. "Do I look dead to you?" Angelina started to speak and Indy cut her off. "No, I don't. Trust me - when I'm dead, I'll let you know." He pushed himself to his feet and, like a stubborn old man, made his way down the ladder unassisted to the ground below.
After calling off the ambulance and taking care of business with the police, Indy and Angelina rode with Merida to the abandoned palace. The investigator parked in the street before the gate while Indy ran to the call box outside and dialed a number he had been given only hours before.
"It's Jones," he said into the phone. "No, I not sorry. Open the gate - this'll only take a minute." Angelina looked at him suspiciously as Indy listened to the voice on the other end and winked at her. "Yes," he continued. "This makes us square...yes, finally."
Indy hung up the phone and turned to his companions. "Well, the call is being made as we speak. We should have an hour or two to check out the map room, but that'll be about it."
They waited a few more minutes until a burly guard with a shaven head emerged from the palace entrance beyond and made his way stiffly down the drive to where they stood. Without a word, he pulled a ring of keys from his belt, cranking one in the face of the iron barrier's lock. He then stepped back and pulled the gate open, acknowledging Jones with a nod as the three of them entered the Royal grounds. The guard then moved ahead and led them silently into the palace interior.
Indy whistled softly at the opulence on display. Fine rugs and tapestries bedecked the floors and walls while handmade furniture and glorious works of art from centuries past populated every nook and cranny. All the best, for a family no longer found worthy, Indy thought.
The guard allowed them no leeway to stray as they walked the palace halls. In short time, then, they arrived at the King's library, and the map room within. Indy waved the guard away and closed the door.
"Have you ever seen anything like it?" he asked happily, pointing at the eastern wall. A massive map of the world covered its entire 70 feet of length and 30 feet of height. By the details of the art, Indy thought to place the piece's creation in the early to mid 1500's. Along the north and south walls were smaller maps, highlighting more specific and, apparently, more important locations. Against the west wall stood a near endless bank of shallow map drawers - hundreds all told. In addition, perhaps a dozen writing desks, as well as several larger tables, remained peppered about the room.
"Fantastic," Merida whispered. Angelina nodded, but could find no words to describe her awe.
"Now, where would Charles have stood?" Indy asked, looking about for an indication of the statue's original location. The three of them walked about independently, their attention divided between finding the answers they needed and the compelling desire to simply look about and stare at each and every piece hanging or painted on the walls.
Suddenly, Angelina blurted out a cry of discovery. "Here! I've found something!" The two men ran to where she stood, pointing. Against the west wall, at a point between runs of the map drawers, stood a six inch high octagonal dais. By the wear upon the flat surface it appeared to have once supported an extremely heavy, extremely large statue or sculpture of some sort.
"It's the same width at Charles' base," Indy noted.
Angelina nodded. "Your right. And if the statue stood here...." She stood upon the platform and looked out toward the center of the chamber. Directly across from her, the gigantic map of the world stared back.
"Don't move," Indy said, as he shifted to stand behind her. He closed one eye and peered over her shoulder. "Yep. I think we're on to something," he continued. Indy ran to the door and spoke for a moment with the guard outside.
He paced back and forth between the map and the dais until, a few minutes later, the guard returned with a large roll of twine. Indy took it from him and ran back to where Angelina stood. "Here, hold this up between your eyes," Indy instructed. "Keep it taut, okay?" She nodded as Indy walked quickly across the room, unraveling the twine as he went.
"Okay, now stare straight ahead!"
She did, and upon so doing, realized that she was looking toward the giant map's reproduction of Mexico. "Oh, my," she breathed.
Indy pulled the string taut, while Merida assisted in supporting it at the room's center. Indy pulled the end of the twine and pushed it against the map itself. At the point where it touched, Indy placed his index finger and dropped the string to the floor. He found himself pointing directly at the Pacific Ocean near the Galapagos Islands.
"Aw, c'mon, that can't be right!" Indy said angrily. He moved his hands carefully along the face of the map, testing for irregularities in the wall's surface. He found nothing, but continued searching for several minutes.
"Damn it!" he growled, turning to stalk about the room. After almost an hour of checking the dais itself and every map of Mexico he could find, Indy had just about given up in frustration. "Any ideas?" he asked.
"Maybe we missed something," Merida offered. Maybe we should have checked the eyes of the statue. You know, 'only the king can see its true location.'"
Indy started at the quote. He sat down quietly and concentrated. "Right," he agreed. "That's what it said. But...there was something more." He racked his brains for the answer. Angelina and Merida stood silently, unmoving.
Indy snapped his fingers. "I've got it! 'Only a man of the King's stature can see its true location.'" Merida and Angelina shrugged as one. "Don't you see?" Indy continued. "I thought that meant only someone with access to the King's property, his private chambers, could find the Mine's location - if they looked where the statue looked. But the statue's not looking there," he said, pointing at the spot deep in the waters of the Pacific. "The stature of this king is unusual - because he's eight feet tall!" Angelina began to protest and Indy cut her off. "The statue," he said, raising his right hand high above his head.
As his companions eyes widened in surprise, Indy pulled a chair from one of the writing tables and stood on it. He closed his left eye and looked down the length of his outstretched arm at the far map. "Yeah...yeah! That's gotta be it." He jumped from the chair and picked up the loose end of twine. "Angelina, get on that chair please, and stare at the wall, just like before. Hold up the twine, and hold it tight! Just above your forehead would be about right, I think. Esteban, use the rolled up map on that table to give me a little support in the center."
As they each got into their places, Indy stood on a chair beside the map and pulled the string tight against the wall, looking back at Angelina to check the accuracy of his position. The line was straight - and it terminated in the jungles of the Yucatan. Indy marked the spot and dropped the string. He ran his hands over the locale, sliding his fingertips gently across the paint. Suddenly, he stopped. Within four inches of his initial mark, he found a tiny hole in the wall, covered over with painted gauze. He pulled his pocketknife from his trouser pocket and gently peeled the film from the map's surface. Angelina and Esteban drew up close beneath him as he peered into the hole.
"Eureka...." he whispered.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: June 24, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999