Raiders of the Forbidden Valley
Chapter 4: Chinese Burns
Hugh's scream cut through the office. The smell of burning flesh made Indy gag as he rushed forward with a large rug. In one motion he dived on the burning lawyer and wrapped the thick material around the flames. He heard the window smash again - he turned around expecting to see another ball of fire. Instead a powerful looking Chinese man stood looking at him. Indy had no time to deal with this interloper at the moment. He was vainly trying to save Hugh's life. Susan, however, was another matter. She picked up a coat stand and rushed at the intruder. With an angry scream she started pushing the man towards the window that he had just swung through. Indy looked at Hugh, the fire was out but the shock and pain had proven to be too much for the unfortunate man. He stared at the ceiling with glassy, lifeless eyes. The intruder suddenly started kicking at the coat stand, each time his foot connected with the wood, it splintered. Susan's expression changed as her weapon became shorter and more useless with each kick. The intruder looked at her with a smug expression on his face. Susan smiled sweetly back and bounced the remnants of the coat stand off of her assailant's face. The sudden surprise of this blow sent the Chinese man staggering back towards the window. He glared at her, his confidence replaced by rage. With frightening speed he brought out a wicked looking three-pronged dagger. An evil sneer playing across his lips. He started moving towards her slowly. Indy darted across the room and grabbed the end of the long table where a short time ago they had eaten. He started pushing the table towards the assassin, a task made easier by the highly polished wooden floor and the fact that the table legs were supported on castors. The Chinese intruder looked in surprise at the piece of furniture that was hurtling towards him - with lightning reflexes he took a standing jump. To Indy's amazement the intruder landed on the tabletop as it clattered to a halt against the office wall. Susan grabbed hold of the tablecloth and gave it a hearty yank. The assassin lost his balance and fell backwards - Indy took advantage of the situation and hauled the end of the table off the ground. The intruder yelled out in fear as he slid down the table and out the window.
His scream ended three seconds later and was replaced by a dull thud and then the blare of car horns.
Indy looked out of the window. Across the street three more Chinese men were aiming small handheld, dragon-shaped cannons at them.
"Oh Shit!" Indy turned to see Susan kneeling beside Hugh's body. He grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet. "Susan, we have to get out of here!"
She looked at him with tear filled eyes.
"What about Hugh?"
Before Indy could answer he heard the sound of one of the cannons being fired. He grabbed hold of the runes that had been strewn across the floor during the attack. He hauled Susan from the boardroom into the office. They both dived to the floor just as three fiery missiles came crashing through the window. The flames engulfed the room - an inferno blossomed in seconds. Indy rolled onto his back and slammed the door shut with his feet.
"Susan, are you okay? Because we really have to get out of here!" Indy looked at her. She nodded and they both got to there feet. From behind them they could hear the door beginning to splinter and crack under the extreme heat. The glass window half way up the door shattered and flames began to spread around the doorframe. Indy and Susan ran from the office out into the stairwell.
A large man rushed towards them brandishing a short length of bamboo over his head. Indy turned round as he heard the man's fierce battlecry. With a nonchalant sigh, Indy pushed Susan to his left and casually stepped to his right. The attacking thug's momentum caused him to run through the gap into the reception area of the burning office. Indy slammed the door closed behind him. They continued their escape down three twisting flights of stairs. "I think we're safe." Indy looked at Susan. Suddenly he felt a huge weight smashing into his back. Indy staggered forward under the weight of this unexpected attack. He swiftly jabbed his elbow back and felt it connect with someone's ribs. He felt satisfaction when he heard the accompanying sound of someone grunting in pain. However his feeling of victory was very short-lived. A strong hand nimbly gripped his elbow and squeezed it. A searing hot line of pain shot up into Indy's neck. The hand let go of his elbow and four hard rabbit punches were delivered to his kidneys. Indy sank to his knees, winded and still in a great deal of pain. It felt as though his right arm was paralysed. The weight suddenly lifted from his back. A blur of black clothing appeared before him and a hard kick connected with his chest. Indy fell down onto his back and squinted up at his attacker. The man was small and delicate looking. As Indy started scrambling to his feet, the attacker slapped him back down with a fast, but incredibly accurate chop. Indy slid around; his head was spinning after the last few blows. From the top of the stairs he could hear Hugh's office as it was consumed by the inferno. It was only a matter of moments before the fire started spreading.
He had to get Susan and himself out of here!
His adversary raised his foot and swung it around - fully intending to bring it down onto Indy's head. His reflexes kicked in and he swung his own leg round, knocking the Chinese man's foot away from him. The would-be assassin tumbled forward and fell onto his knee. Indy punched him on the nose. The crack of breaking bone echoed around the hallway. The acrid smell of smoke started drifting down the stairs. Indy was galvanized and got to his feet. As he looked at Susan, he felt another hard kick connect with the small of his back. He slammed into the wall before him - the impact knocking the wind out of him. Indy groaned in pain.
"Jesus, what kind of vitamins are these guys on?" he thought. A hard hand was brought down onto his left shoulder and he slumped down onto his knees. A second kick connected with the back of his head, smashing his face into the wall before him.
As Indy slipped unwillingly into oblivion - he heard the crackling of fire and the shattering of glass. Then, as if from far away down an empty corridor Indy heard Susan shout out his name!
Indy stood in the center of an enormous cavern. Gone was his dark funeral suit, this had been replaced with his usual fieldwork gear. Leather jacket, comfortable work shirt and pants. His fedora cocked at a jaunty angle on his head. He could feel the weight of his Webley on his hip. It was a comforting weight. His trusty bullwhip was coiled in his left hand. Before him stood an enormous tree. It was bigger than any tree Indy had ever seen in his life. Its trunk appeared to be as thick as the base of the Empire State building and the tree seemed to be as tall. He looked up! It's branched seemed to be supporting the roof of the cavern. Both distance and the darkness obscured the topmost branches. However, the parts of the tree that Indy could clearly see were green, verdant and lush.
"How the Hell can a tree like that survive in a cave?" he thought to himself.
There was the trickling of water behind him. It echoed around the cavern and it was the sweetest sound that he had ever heard.
Indy turned to find the source of the water. It was a naturally formed rock pool. The water was clearer than crystal. He licked his lips. Indy could not remember a time when he had felt as thirsty.
Abandoning all caution he rushed forward. He dropped to his knees and started gulping down the cold water, it had a slightly metallic taste, but it was so cool and refreshing. Indy drank until he started to choke. This was not an issue. He continued gulping the water down. Choking and gagging all the more.
"Wake up pal!" a muffled, alien voice drifted into Indy's mind. "Come on. Try to wake up!"
Indy reluctantly opened his eyes. He was lying on the cold dampness of a city street. His throat was sore and raw feeling. He coughed.
"We thought that you were dead! You must have fell when you were running don the stairs. Your face is all battered and bruised! You were lucky we arrived when we did. Otherwise you'd have been fried!"
Indy looked at the fireman kneeling before him. "The girl." He said hoarsely "Where's the girl?" "There wasnae a lassie with you." The fireman looked at the building. It was blazing. From the fire that had started in Hugh's office - the whole building had been engulfed. The firemen were desperately battling to prevent the fire from spreading.
"I've no seen anythin' like this since the bombs fell on Clydebank durin' the war! Luckily these are offices and at this time o' the night there was hardly anybody workin'. In fact it was a cleaner in the accountants on the bottom floor that called for us. If there was anybody else left inside . . ." he trailed of, his silence saying more than words ever could.
Susan woke with a start!
She took a moment to focus. She was lying down and her surroundings were dank and musty. She slowly closed her eyes and started drifting into sleep.
A droplet of water landed on her face. Dragging her awake. She tried to doze off - but again another droplet splashed against her forehead. She lay there, unsure of her surroundings. A few seconds later her head was spattered by another single drop of water. She frowned - her mouth was sore and her tongue felt huge. The bed or table on which she was lying was hard and uncomfortable.
Another droplet fell onto her face.
Susan decided to get up. She tried to move, but found to her horror that she was secured to the table by heavy leather straps. Her ankles, legs, torso, shoulders, arms and wrists were all held tightly (and now that she was regaining consciousness a little) damned uncomfortably! A length of rag was twisted into her mouth, muffling any potential cries of protest.
All she could remember was Indy sliding down the wall - knocked out by the blow to the back of his head. His assailant had grabbed her and she felt a slight prick in her left arm.
And now here she was strapped down to a hard table in some dimly lit room.
Another droplet hit her face.
"Good evening Miss Kirkmuir. I hope you are well?" a sweet accented voice drifted out of the darkness. Susan tried to move her head, but her bonds prevented her from seeing her captor. A lilting laugh followed her misguided attempts. "You will not escape Miss Kirkmuir."
Her captor moved from the darkness. Susan could barely see her out of the corner of her eye. Another droplet of water broke her concentration.
"Have you ever heard of the infamous Chinese water torture Miss Kirkmuir?" Mae Ling asked, "It is fiendishly simple, but very effective. There is no physical pain involved apart from the discomfort of your bonds. However, it has been known to drive men . . . and women insane."
Mae Ling moved into the light and gazed at her captive. Susan was astounded at the delicate beauty of this woman.
"The single droplet of water which hits your face every thirty seconds at first seems to be a mere nuisance. After an hour or so, it's inevitability will be a major irritation. This will continue and soon you will have no concept of time. The only thing that you will live for is the droplet! It will be your only future, you will count the seconds awaiting it's next visit." Mae Ling laughed and stroked Susan's hair. "After a week your mind will only know one thing. The sweet release and agonizing cruelty of the droplet."
As if to emphasise the point another drop hit Susan's face.
"You will beg to tell us what we want to know!" Mae Ling moved away from Susan's field of vision. She struggled to think what knowledge she had that these people wanted to possess. Her captor opened a door and light streamed in from outside.
"I will visit you in a while Miss Kirkmuir, perhaps then we can talk." The door closed and Susan was shut in the darkened room.
She struggled vainly against the leather straps. She had been unconscious when she had been bound. Her body had been limp and had offered no resistance to the straps. She could hardly move!
What did these Chinese villains want? She was a school teacher for God's sake!
Susan closed her eyes and awaited the next, inexorable drip of water.
"Indy, where are you?" she thought.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Hannibal King
Created: May 24, 1999
Last modified: October 4, 1999