Raiders of the Forbidden Valley
Chapter 2: The Runestones of Blood
"The whole roof of the castle was blown to hell . . . excuse the language, but it was! One minute there was a whole gang of those wee buggers, the next . . . nothing! I thought that Indy was dead! Then my new passenger saw him. He was dangling from a window ledge about fifteen feet down the side of the bloody castle! He was alive, lookin' like somthin' that the cat had dragged in, but alive!" Jock paused allowing his audience to laugh. Indy sunk lower into his chair, embarrassed at the retelling of this story . . . again.
"Another shell whistled over us and blew up another chunk of the castle! The Japs werenae in the mood for taking any prisoners. Indy looked up - he had seen us! I took my kite up and around the back of the castle. Now, back then I always used to keep a grappling hook in the cockpit. Just in case I ever needed to haul somethin' out of mud or anything. So, I swoop up and do a somersault, from the look on my Lu-Sans face I thought she was going to puke all over me!"
A raucous peal of laughter echoed through the hall again. The older, but still beautiful Chinese woman sitting next to Jock drew him a withering look. However, the pilot didn't care. He was home, he was full of whisky and he was getting married!
"Anyway, I dropped the hook and it was trailing behind me like an anchor. I had to fly past the wall three times before that big galoot managed to grab onto it! I climbed high, Indy trailing behind the plane! Just in time too, because a minute later the ledge that Indy had been hangin' onto was demolished by another shell!" Jocks expression changed and his tone softened "I'm glad I saved his life! Indy and I have been pals for a long time! We've both dragged each other's arses oot of the fire on too many occasions to remember! I'm honoured he's here to be my best man! Thanks Indy!"
A sentimental murmur rippled through the hall! Jocks friends and family all looked at Indy expectantly! He looked at Jock; his friend had sat down and was downing another whisky! Someone in the hall shouted out.
"Speech!" This galvanized the crowd. Soon, the cry was raised. Indy scowled and downed his shot of whisky. He stood up, feeling like a complete fool in his kilt! He glanced around the room full of Scots. This wasn't like a classroom full of students! This was like a classroom full of grizzly bears!
"Um . . . hi." Indy looked straight ahead.
The car sped along the narrow, twisting road.
The driver of the vehicle glanced nervously at the leather attaché case on the passenger seat. A thin sheen of sweat was covering his face. He looked ahead. It was late at night, but the full moon shone down on the countryside, illuminating everything with it's baleful, cold light. To the cars right was the cold waters of Loch Lomond to it's right was the heavily forested hills.
The driver glanced in his rear view mirror.
Behind him a car sped around a corner!
They were almost on top of him!
"What can I tell you about Jock Lindsay, that none of you already know?" Indy stammered "Well, he likes a whisky now and again!" The wedding party went wild. On cue they all gulped down their own drinks with an almost wild abandon. Every head turned to Indy. He looked at them all, puzzled by this sudden intent attention. Jock gently pushed a tumbler full of whisky towards him. Indy picked it up and took a sip. Everyone in the hall continued to stare at him. He grimaced and slugged the entire shot down.
The crowd went wild.
"Jesus, Marion would be proud of me!" Indy muttered to himself.
Car tires screeched along the road. The sound was like an animal's scream!
The driver was feeling unwell. He felt as though something inhuman had a strong grip on his mortal soul. Glancing towards the leather case he noticed that the cold blue moonlight made the texture of the case look somehow . . . alive!
He tore his attention away from the case - just in time as the road ahead veered sharply to the left! He wrestled with the steering wheel.
The car skidded, the spinning wheels throwing dirt and shale everywhere.
As the driver fought to regain control of the speeding automobile he heard an unpleasant thin laugh echo through the night!
Indy was on about his fourth toast to the bride and groom. The whisky had anaesthetized his throat. He wasn't much of a drinker at the best of times, and at the moment he was beginning to feel nauseous. His father, a Scotsman after all, had warned him before he had left.
"Junior, you do realise some of the inherent traditions of a Scottish wedding don't you? Every man, woman and possibly child, will be doing their very best to drink every last drop of whisky in Scotland dry!"
He had taken his dad's comments with a large pinch of salt. Henry Jones Sr., usually the very epitome of sobriety, was terminally nostalgic about Scotland. Even though he had lived in America for years and had travelled all over the world. He still retained more than a hint of a Scottish accent. In fact it was his dad who had insisted that he wore this damned kilt!
Another glass of whisky was handed to him!
"Indy, tell 'em about the time that I had to rescue you from all they wee bare arsed fellows in Peru!" Jock shouted, all of the guests joined in with peals of encouragement.
Indy rolled his eyes and downed his whisky.
The driver of the car tried to shake the eerie laughter from his thoughts. It was only his imagination! It could only be his imagination!
He glanced in his rear view mirror again.
The pursuing car was no where to be seen!
He allowed himself a slight smile. Perhaps he was safe! Perhaps they hadn't found him!
Beside him the case began to pulsate, throbbing obscenely. Almost as if it were breathing! The brown leather surface was no longer weathered and cracked it had become venous and reptilian looking! The driver screamed out in fear!
The car swerved as the terrifying sight clawed at his sanity!
"No, you are not real! This is not real!" He shouted out hoarsely.
The car was bathed in light. An oncoming truck blared it's horn urgently. The driver took control of his vehicle. Regaining the slender and tenuous grasp he had on his own sanity. For a moment all he heard was the deep throaty breathing of the case thing!
Stealing himself he looked at the object.
It was nothing more than a normal battered attaché case!
"Anyway all joking aside! Jock is a good man and a good friend and I am proud to be his best man. I know that these two people will be as happy as they deserve. And they both deserve to be blissfully and one hundred percent happy!" Indy reluctantly raised a glass "I'd like to propose a toast to Mr and Mrs Lindsay! Jock and Lu-San."
Everyone in the hall reciprocated the toast with appreciation. Indy lowered the glass and smiled. There was a moment of silence before the Master of Ceremonies, a huge bearded giant of a man, stood up.
"Ladies and Gentlemen! Please take your partners for the Dashing White Sergeant!" As the Ceildih band started playing, Indy decided that all things considered, perhaps it was time for some fresh air. He got to his feet unsteadily and murmured some unheard and slurred apologies before weaving through the gathered dancers. He left the hot and smoky hall, making his way out to the refreshing cool night air.
The inside of the car was getting hot. The driver had put his jacket over the case, fully aware that his minds were playing tricks on him, but also not totally convinced of his own sanity. Too many of his colleagues had died since they had made their discovery. They had all lost their lives in strange and unnatural ways. His best friend had thrown himself through a plate glass window. Everyone had thought that it had been suicide, brought on by the deaths of his colleagues. Jim Clark had not been the type to give into suicide! And nobody seemed to think that it was strange that he hadn't opened the window before plunging to his death 48 stories below.
Nothing had been the same since they had found those bloody Runes!
To the team of archaeology students the cave had held the find of their lives. Proof positive that the ancient Nordic seafarers had set foot on American soil long before Columbus. The cave in New England had contained Viking jewelry; an axe head, various other trinkets but the most intriguing artifact had been a simple ring of small runestones. In the center of this ring had been a small, black statue. Their field guide, Professor Alexander Hume - an expert on Celtic and Norse legend was totally baffled by the design of this artifact. All at once it appeared to be piscine, reptilian, lupine! Hume's initial thoughts, was that it was a representation of Nidhoggr the vast and evil serpent who constantly gnawed at the roots of the mighty ash tree Yggdrasil, the legendary Norse tree of life!
After photographing and carefully noting every last detail. This team of bright newcomers had removed the artifact.
It was then that the horror had begun!
Indy sat on a rock gazing out across the calm surface of the loch. Behind him, the muffled sounds of Jock's wedding drifted across the still of the night. Indy was feeling depressed as Hell. He had tried to avoid Scotland ever since his wife Deirdre had been killed. He had nothing against the country, but it was fair to say that he still missed her immensely. Sure, there had been other women since then. And he had loved some of them. There had also been women before her and he had loved some of them.
He had only married one of them. Deirdre Campbell.
After she had been killed in a plane crash that he had survived Indy felt as though he had been hollowed out. She had been vibrant, intelligent, and full of life - everything that Indy had needed or wanted. He picked up a stone and skimmed it across the loch surface. Damn it all to Hell! It had been over twenty years since Deirdre had been killed. He wasn't an accomplished drinker and this whisky was making him maudlin. With a deep sigh he stood up and turned to face the country hotel behind him.
"Ah well, let's go and face the enemy." He murmured and started walking towards the building.
The silence of the night was broken by a crashing sound! Indy spun around - the whole night was illuminated.
"What the Hell?" He muttered, just before the car came careering through the copse of trees and plunged into the loch! Indy watched for a second as the vehicle began to sink into the murky depths, its taillights flickering once and then winking out. Indy shrugged off his jacket and began running towards the loch. He briefly wondered how buoyant he'd be with the heavy material of the kilt around his midriff, no matter, he'd soon find out! Indy dived into the water!
The bitter cold bit into him like a thousand dull needles. He cursed under his breath and started straining through the water. Looking for the car. He caught a glimpse of the vehicle body and started swimming towards it. The water was a mass of silt and weeds; the crashing vehicle had disturbed everything. However, it wasn't too deep and Indy reached the car with little effort. His kilt was beginning to weigh him down.
"Sorry dad." Indy thought and began to unbuckle the straps that held the kilt together. Within seconds he was free from it and it sank to the bottom of the loch. Indy reached the car door and tried to pull it open. He strained for a moment or to against the pressure of the water. It wasn't budging! He looked around. A large boulder caught his eye and he scooped it up. His lungs were screaming out in agony! He needed air, but if he gave in to this need the occupant of the submerged vehicle would die. Indy drew his hand back and pounded at the windscreen with the boulder. He hit it four or five times before it crumpled inwards. The water began to gush in the car. This revived the unconscious driver and he began to panic! Indy swam around and opened the driver's door, this time it was an easy task, the pressure having been released with the inward flow of water.
He grabbed the driver and began to haul him out of the car. The man looked at him with wide and horrified eyes; Indy attempted to give the man a calm look! The driver started thrashing about wildly, his face was etched with fear and panic. He twisted wildly to the left, breaking free from Indy's grasp. The water swirled as the driver lunged towards his car, reaching inside he hauled the attaché case from the passenger seat. Indy started swimming for the surface; satisfied that the other man would also make it. He broke the surface and took a long, deep gasp of air. As he clambered out of the freezing water of the loch, the driver of the car followed him.
"Are you okay pal?" Indy looked at the wild eyed and bedraggled man that stood before him, tightly clutching a soggy wet attaché case to his chest. He was looking around fearfully "Hey, it's okay! You're going to be fine." Indy said calmly. The man looked at him without really acknowledging him for a few seconds. Suddenly his expression changed, he no longer looked afraid now he just looked totally puzzled.
"What am I doing? There are people chasing me! I need to get away . . . please!" He looked around, his expression became one of fear again, and his eyes started flickering with agitation. He looked back at Indy - his mood changing instantly, a small smile crept across his face "Why aren't you wearing any trousers?"
Indy looked down at his bare legs.
"It's a long story." He smiled ruefully in return. The man started to laugh Indy looked at him. He thought about how strange he must look and began to chuckle. The mood was infectious for both men and pretty soon they were both laughing heartily.
"Now, are you . . ." Indy began. A hard left hook interrupted his train of thought. He fell over, shocked by this sudden attack. He looked up. The driver looked at him wretchedly.
"I am sorry!" he said quietly in a monotone voice. He lunged forward and grabbed the dirk from Indy's sock. He looked up to see people swarming from the hotel.
"Look after my sister!" He looked back at Indy "Please!"
In a fluid motion he quickly drew the blade across his throat. For a moment he gazed at the bedraggled archaeologist before crumpling to the ground. Blood gushing from the arterial wound across his throat! He looked at the case with glazing eyes.
"Destroy the runestones!" he gurgled.
It was his last thought; he drifted quietly into oblivion.
A sleek black Rolls Royce sat at the roadside, it's engine idling. The driver, a small ratty looking oriental peered through a gap in the trees. It was a gap that had been torn by the out-of-control car.
"The coward has killed himself exhalted one. The case is lying at the cur's feet!" A thin and reedy voice spoke from the back of the car.
"How many are there?"
The driver looked again.
"It was only one other, but many people have emerged from the building. What shall I do?"
The passenger paused for a moment.
"Drive onwards. We will recover the case at our convenience."
The car pulled away and drove into the night. From the back seat, a shadowed, gaunt and immensely old face stole a glance at the scene.
The hotel manager appeared in the large sitting room. He looked sympathetically at Indy, who was sitting at an open fire, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He was cradling a hot cup of tea in his hands; Jock had tried to thrust a whisky onto him but Indy had insisted that he didn't want anymore alcohol.
"I've sent for the police. The nearest station is Balloch, I'm afraid that it will be about twenty or so minutes before they arrive." The manager announced. Indy and Jock both looked at him.
"Thanks." Indy managed a half smile. The manager paused for a moment, unsure of what to do. He nodded vaguely and left the room.
"Indy, it wasnae your fault!" Jock smiled at his friend.
"I know that Jock. The guy was obviously deranged." Indy murmured gazing into the fire.
"Are you going to be alright?" Jock was obviously concerned. Indy looked at him and smiled.
"Jesus Jock, I've seen a whole Hell of a lot worse than some poor sap cutting his own throat! I've seen men chopped up into pulp by airplane propellers! I'm fine. I think I've got a bit of a hangover that's all." Indy smiled jocularly at his friend "Now if I were you I'd go and see Lu-San . . . before you end up getting a divorce!"
"Indy I dinnae think I should leave yea alone. You've had a shock!" Jock protested. "Christ Jock! It's been a long time since I had a mother, and when she was alive I seldom listened to her. I'm fine. You go and enjoy your wedding night." Indy glared at Jock; his expression and tone left no room for argument. Jock shrugged, got to his feet and walked to the door.]
"G'night Indy." He looked at his friend once more and then left the room. Indy sat thinking. His mind was racing, he was sure that he remembered the dead mans face from somewhere. It hadn't struck him at the time, but now that he'd had times to analyze things he thought that he had seen the poor sap before.
Indy rubbed his chin. He looked at a table across the room - sitting on it was the brown leather attaché case. Indy frowned slightly. He didn't remember anyone bringing it inside. The dead man had gone back for the case - it was obviously very important to him. Perhaps there would be some clue to his identity inside. Indy put down his mug and stood up. He started walking slowly towards the case. Suddenly feeling nervous. He had developed something akin to a sixth sense in all his years as an archaeologist. It had saved his skin on a number of occasions and it was seldom wrong. He had that feeling now.
Damn! Why was he so spooked?
Indy moved forward and touched the case. It felt curiously warm, but Indy put that down to the accumulated heat from the room. He laughed to himself and shook his head.
"It's only an old briefcase!" He said aloud.
Indy slowly opened the catches on either side of the bag. Sweat was pouring down his back and the feeling was stronger than ever. He swallowed and slowly opened it.
Light a streak of green lightning a snake leapt from inside the case!
Indy's reflexes caused him to fall backwards. He looked in horror as the serpent (which was unlike anything he had ever seen) slithered across the floor. It was a colored a bright green, almost jade, and to Indy's horror it seemed to have no eyes. The muscles in its thick body undulated and squirmed as it moved towards the prone archaeologist. His body was frozen with fear. He had a terrible phobia about snakes and this one was the most terrifying creature he had ever seen.
It reared up and swayed slightly from side to side. Indy started backing away from the creature; however, even this slight movement seemed to alert this blind monstrosity to his presence.
It started hissing menacingly, Indy cried out in terror as the creature's jaws opened. It was at this point that all resemblance to a normal snake was banished.
Its jaws were in four sections. The creature poised itself above Indy - looking like a bizarre and nightmarish flower.
The snake darted forward - it's obscene mouth heading straight towards Indy's throat!
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Hannibal King
Created: May 9, 1999
Last modified: October 4, 1999