THE RED SPIDER
January 9th, 1920
The Human Fly could hear the crowd of New Yorkers cheering below him, even over the wind that threatened to tear him off the side of the side of the Woolworth Building. Miraculously he had made it twenty-five stories up, the highest he had ever climbed in his career. Not quite half way, but he knew he could make it. The cold wind threatened to blow him off the wall but he clung on tight, pressing his face against the stone to shield himself.
As he pulled himself up to the twenty-seventh floor he caught a glimpse of something moving inside the darkened office. There was a flash of something red, a flutter of movement and the outline of a man inside the room. The Human Fly froze, unsure of what to do next. As time slowly passed and his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could see now there were two men in the room; one sitting at a desk with his back to the window, the other standing behind him. The man standing wore a red suit the color of blood and something metallic flashed in his left hand. The hand moved down to the sitting man and moved back up quickly, the shiny silver device reflecting the moonlight. The man sitting in the chair went limp and fell to the floor. Whatever was happening, it made the Fly uneasy. He pulled himself up past the window, but just as he put his feet on the ledge below the man in the room began to turn toward him. He could see the man’s hat now and a long red scarf wrapped tight about his neck, covering the stranger’s mouth. The man wore something on his face, a mask of some kind over his eyes. As the stranger turned his head toward the window, the Fly saw the six small red eyes blazing in the darkness. The Fly screamed, his hand slipping from the ledge, falling backwards toward certain death. The window in front of him flew open but he had no grip, the building seemed to be moving away from him with only his feet left on the ledge. Then his feet slipped off and he began to say his final prayers. He felt himself suddenly being yanked hard and he lost consciousness for a moment. When he opened his eyes again he found himself in the room on the twenty-seventh floor, an unconscious body lay next to him. Even in the darkness he knew the strange man’s shadow had just fallen over him.
“Who are you?” he asked the stranger. He could make out no details of the man who had just saved him, the stranger had opened the door to the hallway and the light silhouetted him in shadow.
“You’re George Polley aren’t you? The man they call the Human Fly?” the stranger said, his voice a deep gravelly sound.
“Yeah, yeah, oh my God thank you for. . . “
The stranger suddenly pressed a cold metal device to George’s neck and there was a sound like air being released quickly from a tire. George felt sleepy all of a sudden and he looked up at the red mask leering in front of him. There were two large glass eyes, surrounded by four smaller ones. They seemed to glow red and George tried to pull away. There was no strength left in his muscles and he could not crawl, instead he fell face down on the floor. The voice left his throat and his eyes began to close.
“Tell them I am the Red Spider.” The stranger said. The world began to fade for George Polley, he fought to keep his eyes open but he found himself drifting away.
“Sleep now,” the Red Spider said, “and dream of safer career choices.”
Cold steel hands gripped the New York Times. The front page article was dedicated to rocket scientist Robert Goddard and his new proposal for sending missiles into space.
“That Professor Goddard, with his “chair” in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action and reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react—to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools. Fools. Stupid, stupid fools.”
The man’s voice was cold, ringing out from mechanical device in his throat. He threw the paper down on the table next to him and motioned to two men standing near the door. His office had the feel of an drawing room, with shelves full of books lining the walls and soft, plush furniture facing the thick oak desk the old man sat behind. The guards wore black outfits with no insignias, with small black berets on their heads. Both men were in perfect physical condition; strong and muscular with healthy British faces.
“If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is stupidity. Ready the plane, we’re going to New York.”
One of the guards tapped his heels together and saluted the old man, while the other helped him to stand. A creaking, grinding sound came from his limbs as the metallic parts of his body raised him to his feet. Standing erect, he stretched out his back and the sound of the machine parts grew louder. The guard backed off as the man took a few steps forward. One of his knees buckled suddenly and the guard caught him, keeping him upright.
“I think you should sit down sir,” said the guard. The old man turned toward him, his eyes narrowing above his large, pointed nose. The old man’s brow furrowed in a scowl of disgust and the guard knew he’d made a mistake. Suddenly the old man’s steel hand reached out and grabbed the guard by the throat. He tried to retreat but the old man was standing on his own and his grip was unbreakable. Soon the guard, who had just been hired the day before, dropped to his knees as the air was crushed from his throat.
“Never, ever, attempt to tell me what to do.”
The first guard returned, saluting once again. He did not even spare a glance for his dead partner.
“Your plane is ready Professor Irons.”
“Thank you,” said the old man, releasing the dead guard. The body fell to the ground as the eyes rolled back. The guard led Professor Irons out of the room and toward the elevator. A minute later two other henchman in black berets entered the room and casually dragged the body away for disposal.