Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 15: Of Dreams and Darkness
It was a dream that began in Australia.
Indy found himself underwater, naked but for his undergarments. Light streamed down from above in splintered shafts of illumination. Throughout these swam a myriad of fish, more numerous and colorful than Indy had imagined possible. Like floating in a rainbow, he thought.
Minutes of silent observation passed until Indy realized his lungs were aching. He experienced a moment of panic and looked up toward the surface. The water appeared calm, the air above inviting. With a muscular kick he propelled himself upwards. After rising perhaps two feet, Indy was jerked to a halt and a sharp pain shot through his right leg. Looking down, he found his ankle encased in an iron manacle, fastened to the floor of the pool by length of chain. Indy's panic became terror, the air in his lungs nearly spent. He bent and hammered at the restraint, furious, confused and frightened at once. It would not give. He twisted his ankle raw, but still he could not free himself. His body's need for air took over then, forcing Indy to gasp. His lungs filled with water and it seemed to him that the liquid smelled of blood. He screamed in anger and beat the water with his fists as if trying to force back its assault.
Then, from out of the darkness swept a great beast - a serpent of magnificent length. It poured about Indy's captured leg in a tight coil and lurched backward, ripping the chain's restraining bolt from the rocky floor. The archaeologist closed his eyes and collapsed, letting himself be carried along by the snake's undulations.
Indy felt the sun caress his shoulders as they broke the surface of the water. He lay face down on a cool stone somewhere, while a great weight settled onto his back, just behind the lungs. He wanted to cough desperately, but couldn't. The weight persisted and he turned his head. Above him, the great serpent thrashed, hammering into Indy's back. The beast noticed his gaze and paused, lowering its head to Indy's ear.
"Within the serpent is knowledge. Fear not the serpent," it hissed. "You must wake up."
And then, Indy coughed.
With a sputter and a retching noise, a full quart of water vomited from Indy's lungs. He gagged with a painful cry; his body warring to pull in air at the same time it expelled the liquid. He lay still for a time, working to process the oxygen his body so desperately needed while the angry roar of water echoed throughout the canopy of trees overhead.
"God," he croaked, rolling over. "What happened?"
Angelina crouched over him, a weary look of relief evident on her face. She was soaking wet. "Indy, you passed out in the canoe. I think you were more exhausted than you let on. I tried steering with your paddle from the front, but when I heard the falls coming I couldn't get to the nearest bank quickly enough."
Indy shivered. "That would explain why I'm drenched." He lifted his head a bit to look himself over and groaned. "Did we hit the rocks when we went over? My leg and my ribs feel like hell."
Angelina smiled wryly. "No, we got lucky. I couldn't see you after I surfaced beyond the falls, so I dove back underwater. You were stuck beneath the surface, your leg pinched between two rocks. I thought you were dead, but I worked your leg free and pulled you to shore. I imagine that's why your leg hurts. As to your ribs, I had to get the water out of your lungs somehow, so I...I jumped on you."
"You jumped on me?" A pained expression crossed Indy's face and he groaned once again. "I feel like I just played a half dozen games of iron man football, like back in my undergraduate days."
Angelina nodded. "Yes, I'm sorry. Still...." She smiled. "You are alive."
"Thank god for small favors," Indy grumbled. "Now I know what a train wreck feels like." He pushed himself into a sitting position with Angelina's help and surveyed the surrounding gorge. Just as Charles had described, it looked like a grotto formed of trees, perhaps as long as three hundred yards, as wide as one hundred and fifty. Behind him, the water boiled where the falls met the pool's surface. He looked back and up, the drop more impressive than he would have believed possible to survive.
"Well," he said, turning back to the woman, "what's the status of our things? Do you think anything made it through intact?"
Angelina shrugged. "I don't think the boat ever surfaced. Our packs washed up over there." She slowly stretched out her hand and pointed.
Indy followed the line of her finger to the far side of the pool. He could just spot the stolen equipment at the water's surface, wedged into the branches of a fallen tree. "Good. For now, that's what we need more than anything else. We need to get a fire started. We're going to have to dry out our things if we hope to get any sleep at all." Angelina nodded and the two of them rose, slowly, to begin the difficult quest for dry wood.
In time, they succeeded in putting together a descent pile of branches. Indy crossed the pool at a narrow point and retrieved their packs where - surprisingly enough - he found his hat. He shook it out and chuckled. The damn thing was more resilient than he was! Between the ache of his slowly healing arm, his sore hand, his ankle, shoulder and back, Indy thought he was just about as close to needing a body cast as he ever would be. Some days you get the bear, other days....
"Do you thinks it's wise to light a fire?" Angelina asked as Indy knelt to ignite the small pile of wood with his lighter. "If Carlos' men are following, won't they see it?"
"No." Indy shook his head. "Not with this roof over our heads. Unless they ride all night, they won't be anywhere near this spot by the time we leave tomorrow morning."
"Where are we going?" Angelina rubbed her hands in front of the small but growing fire as Indy carefully laid out several wet notes and maps from his leather satchel.
"Here," he said, pointing.
Angelina bent to look at the blurry sketch before her. It was a rough picture of the gorge as seen from the side in a cut-away view, the river's elevation dropping from left to right. Where the falls should have been, Indy had sketched a simple jumble of slanted wavy lines, with a notation that the exact change in elevation was undetermined. Further left, just behind the slope of water, he had drawn a tiny black oval with a tube-like structure leading from it.
"Oh, Indy," she said. "You must be joking."
"That's the way it was described in Charles' hidden manuscript," Indy said. "The tunnel leads to the Valley of Itzama." He grinned. "Hey, these clichés have to start somewhere, you know?"
Early the next morning, Indy spent a short time bathing in the waters of the pool, soaking his soiled cast and washing the dried blood from his body. After he finished, Angelina did the same, demurely asking Indy to avert his eyes as she did so. Indy, a man of honor, complied and turned his back to her. He passed the time by shaving - something he felt compelled to do, even though he normally wouldn't have given it a second thought. Not in the field anyway. The fact that his shaving mirror continuously caught the lake's reflection - as well as Angelina's - had nothing to do with it, he was sure.
They spent the next hour eating and erasing the evidence of their encampment, then shouldered their packs and made their way to the falls. Indy stepped through the heavy mist enshrouding its base and pulled himself close against the slick rock wall. Testing each footstep, he shuffled to the side and then, hat grasped in one hand, pushed through a seam in the water to whatever lay beyond. Angelina stood quietly, waiting. A minute passed and she began to worry. Just as she called Indy's name, his gloved hand thrust out from the curtain of water, motioning her to enter. Following his path, she did. The roar of water and mist blinded her to what lay beyond, but finally she crossed over, Indy helping to pull her through the last few feet.
As they shook the water from themselves, Indy pulled a heavy flashlight from his pack and snapped it on. "Voila," he said softly, playing the wide beam over the shallow impression in the cliff wall. Across from them yawned a cave entrance, seven feet in diameter.
"Indy, do you think...?" Angelina left the question unasked as Indy walked forward and into the entrance.
"I do," he said. "Come on." He reached back with his right hand and took Angelina's palm in his. "We've got to see a god about some silver."
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: Sept. 2, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999