Jessica Kinkaid hated how loud her heels sounded on the cobblestone path of the courtyard outside her townhouse. With only one open gate into the box of houses, the sound had nowhere to go except to bounce back and echo through the yard. She wondered if the people inside the homes could hear her shoes click-clacking and were cursing her at that very moment. As she climbed the steps to her front door, she stopped and removed the keys from her purse. The click-clacking continued and Jessica turned around, holding her keys tight in her hand like a weapon. Someone had followed her, using her own footfalls to mask their own. As she turned she saw a figure, tall and wide and glistening in the dim lights from the apartments. Jessica quickly searched for the key to her apartment, frantically trying each one as the shape came toward her. It appeared to have a body made of metal, a steel gauntlet reached for her just as the lock clicked open. Quickly she fell into her apartment, slamming the door shut behind her. She locked it and slid the chain into place just as a metal fist collided with the door, knocking her back. Again the steel fist hit the door, causing wood shavings to crumble around the bolts holding it to the frame. Jessica began to scream for help and the banging stopped. She leaned against the door, holding it shut and listening for her attacker. There was a clang-clang as the steel boots of the metal man walked away. After a couple minutes Jessica began to breathe again as she lay with her back against the door. Tears rolled down her eyes involuntarily, she told herself she was not going to cry, her eyes simply refused to obey her.
Dan Chase tried frantically to find his cigarettes underneath the piles of old newspapers and magazines piled up on his desk. The typewriter hadn’t been used in so long there was rust on the keys and there were cups of coffee hidden beneath the refuse that contained what could only be described as toxic sludge. The Manhattan Post was a small publisher and Dan took pride in the fact his desk was in fact better organized than those of his peers in the office. Finally he found the Lucky Strikes hidden inside a folded up newspaper and he just got one into his mouth when he noticed the tall blonde walking toward him. Every head in the place, the entire writing staff seemed to turn and focus on Ms. Jessica Kinkaid as she strode across the room. Dan lit a smoke and watched her; unlike the other men who paid attention only to her curves, Dan could see the tears on her cheeks and the trembling bottom lip.
“Mr. Chase? Dan Chase?” Jessica asked. To her credit she kept her voice calm and professional but Dan could see the fear in her eyes.
“That’s me. What can I do for you Miss?”
“My name is Jessica Kinkaid and . .” she stopped and looked around. Danny quickly grabbed a chair from a nearby desk and placed it next to here.
“Sorry, sit. Please.”
Jessica sat down and crossed her legs, placing her hands on her knees. Danny could tell from her stiff back and perfect posture she was a woman of breeding, someone who had grown up with money and expectations.
“I apologize for my overwhelming emotions, Mr. Chase. The truth is someone is trying to kill me.”
Danny lit his cigarette and watched the woman’s face, letting her stew in her own emotions for a moment. Something was troubling her, obviously and Danny had no reason not to believe that she was telling the truth.
“Do you know who it is?” Danny asked.
“No. They never show themselves. They send machines after me.”
Danny sat up straight, his cigarette almost falling out his mouth.
“Machines? What kind of machines?”
“They look like. . .” she stopped for a moment and bit her plump red lower lip. “Like knights in armor.”
“Like some kind of automaton? What do you call them, a robot or something?”
“Yes, yes that’s it! Someone is sending robots after me Mr. Chase and I want to know why.”
Danny took out his notebook and licking the end of his pen, began to furiously scribble down notes.
“Oh no, please Mr. Chase. I don’t want this in the papers.” Danny looked at her for a moment and then sighed. He ran his hand through his short, messy hair and leaned back in his chair.
“Why did you come to me then? I mean no offense Ms. Kinkaid, but this is the office of the Manhattan Post. Sounds to me like you need a police officer, not a reporter.”
“I came to you sir,” she replied, her voice taking on a cold tone, “because you know the Red Spider.”