Dan Chase had spent the weekend researching every detail of Jessica Kinkaid’s life. There was nothing unusual in her past; her parents were middle class Irish descendants, immigrants who had done fairly well in Pittsburgh before moving to Manhattan. The woman was well mannered and even tempered and she had answered all of his questions with what he believed to be the truth. Even when he’d tried to push her, to get a rise out of her, she’d maintained her dignity and class. It had frustrated him at first but eventually he had to accept that Jessica was telling the truth. Dan sat in a quiet Manhattan speakeasy in the middle of the afternoon, the Volstead Act was in full effect and finding a good place to grab a pint was getting harder and harder. All Dan had to do to contact the Red Spider was place an ad inside his weekly column in the Post and the Spider would find him the following day. The ad was for a red Fedora and Dan had only used it twice the previous year. As he finished his beer he realized that even if Jessica believed she was telling the truth, it was only her interpretation of the events she believed. It was possible that she was confused by what she’d seen, perhaps there were no robotic assassins at all. They could have been humans in armor or some kind of prank meant to frighten her. Dan wiped the last of his beer from his upper lip with the back of his suit sleeve, popped a Lucky Strike in his mouth and headed for the door. He would spend the week with Jessica and at the first sign of trouble he’d hide her somewhere and contact the Red Spider. The Spider was a strange man and Dan Chase was reluctant to contact him if Ms. Kinkaid proved to be dramatizing or misinterpreting what she’d witnessed. Women may have gotten the right to an equal vote, but Dan was not sure a beautiful woman like Jessica Kinkaid was capable of understanding the complexities of what was going on around her. As stepped out of the Speakeasy he was determined to take care of her, no matter what the truth was, he would protect her. The walk would sober him up, he thought, not realizing that the other side of town was in fact the other side of New York City. It was almost an hour before Dan realized how far he still had to go and he began searching for a cab. Since it was still mid-afternoon on a Monday, it was not difficult to find a free Checker Cab. What surprised Dan was the driver. As the man pulled up Dan saw his skin was dark brown and he wore a red turban around his head. The driver did not look at him as he got in but he gave Dan a kind hello with a thick Indian accent. The driver wore a thick black winter coat that made it difficult to make out any details below the neck.
“Where to, sir?” the driver asked.
“I take it you’re not from around here.” Dan said, taking out a cigarette. He held the pack out to the driver but the man kept his eyes on the road.
Dan gave him the address and lit his smoke. The bumpy ride in the Checker kept jostling the ashes off his cigarette and after a few minutes of brushing himself off repeatedly he decided to toss the cigarette out the window.
The driver gave him a look out of the corner of his eye and Dan just shrugged and said “I’m quitting.”
When Dan stepped out of the cab, he was sober enough to pay the driver and wonder why he’d travelled across town to see Ms. Kinkaid in the first place.
“I wait for you sir?” the driver asked in his broken English. Dan was about to wave him away when he remembered why he was there.
“Yeah, I’ll need a lift back to Manhattan, thanks.”
It was only his intention to let Ms. Kinkaid know that he believed her, nothing more. The night air was cold and he felt refreshed even though he was still quite drunk. Once he told her of his plan, to protect her and wait for any sign of the killers, he wondered if she would invite him to stay. He began to formulate an escape plan in his head, the waiting cab gave him a quick enough exit but he wanted to be sure he could help her without giving her the wrong impression. Dan thought himself a handsome enough man and he worried that if they spent too much time together, Ms. Kinkaid would inevitably fall for him. He almost didn’t hear the metal feet approaching him until it was too late.
Dan ducked as a metal gauntlet struck the wall next to his head. Stumbling off the front steps, Dan scampered back along the rail as they pushed past him. There were two metal men with intricately designed armor, their focus completely on the apartment. There were two metal men with intricately designed armor. There were no faces inside the helmets, just turning gears and two small red lights. The armor was only one color, dark gray, with a design on the front that resembled some form of crocodile. The robot men ignored Dan once he was out of the way, they knocked down the front door instead and he heard Jessica scream from inside her house. The first robot knight entered the house, Dan tried to grab the second one but it shoved him back down the stairs. Hitting the ground hard, he shook his head to clear his vision. Looking up through blurry eyes, Dan was shocked to see the cab driver running toward him. As the Indian man ran, his turban was unravelled into a red scarf and the thick winter coat was tossed aside, revealing a blood red suit. The man slipped on a mask and a black fedora, his skin still painted brown and Dan realized he did not need to find the Red Spider. The Red Spider had found them.