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Part 6

For a moment Dan couldn’t think of anything to say. The Spider’s strange lair was hauntingly quiet and the maze of books behind him made Dan feel lost in some mad Wonderland. A battle with robots and a hangover had left Dan feeling drained and mentally exhausted. Nervously he waved the flashlight around, refusing to let the light linger too long on the objects he saw hidden in the shadows.

“You mean her father sent these things after her? Why would he do that? Couldn’t he have sent a driver over to pick her up?” Dan finally said, his voice cracking as his confidence waned in the presence of the Red Spider. The Spider did not look up from his work; instead he carefully took apart the robotic arm he’d found.

“I said her father built these automatons. That does not mean he took her.” The Spider pointed to the magnifying glass and Dan leaned forward to peer through. Molded into the metal were the letters AK stylized as a logo inside a circle, the symbol of Alexander Kinkaid’s Steelworks Corporation. The Red Spider suddenly loosened his scarf, tugging at it while looking up at the ceiling.

“How are these two events connected? Why would someone attack the New York Times and Jessica Kinkaid?” The Spider wondered aloud.

After a few seconds of introspection, the Red Spider returned his attention to the mechanical pieces in front of him. Dan began to grow restless and paced back and forth in the shop. His foot bumped a shelf and a series of wrenches clattered to the floor, the noise echoing through the Spider’s lair. The Red Spider turned and focused all six little eyes on him and then in his raspy voice he spoke very calmly.

“Take the flashlight. Back in the library, to the right and right again, you will see a collection of old newspapers. Find me the Times dated January 12th to January 14th.”

The Spider turned back to his work bench, lighting a small torch with one hand. Dan picked up the flashlight and headed back into the library. As a newspaper man, it would be a simple enough task for him. Yet the moment he stepped back in the twisting labyrinth of books, he felt a chill go up his spine. He was annoyed the Spider was sending him off on errands, but he was not brave enough to speak his mind. Instead, Dan Chase pointed the flashlight directly ahead and entered the Spider’s web of books.

The collection of old newspapers was easy enough to find; Dan found them against the wall, piled high on a dresser. Old yellow pages stuck out of the drawers, dating back at least fifty years. Dan picked up a couple more recent papers piled on top; the London Times, a French paper called the Paris Journal, as well as a number of small, cheap pamphlets dedicated to the occult, conspiracies and black magic. As curious as Dan was, he focused only on what he was asked to do. Eventually he found the Times and grabbed the top four, from the tenth of January to the fourteenth. Rushing back down the library hallway, he was relieved when he returned to the shop.

“Hold on to those. We’ll read them in the plane.” The Spider said. Dan’s stomach dropped. As a born and bred New York boy, he’d never set foot on a boat, train or a plane. Somehow he knew that he was not being given a choice in the matter; if the Spider wanted him along, he was in no position to say no. Even if he had the courage, his curiosity always got the better of him, it was the reason he became a journalist in the first place. Dan Chase just didn’t have the common sense to stay home where it was safe and he wasn’t going to start now.

Gathering up a few pieces of the machinery, the Red Spider stuffed them into his suit pocket and then walked around to the back wall of the garage. Grabbing a wrench, he pulled it hard. The wrench was not real, but was in fact a well designed door handle; the entire wall slid open revealing a large hangar bay. Inside was a custom Breguet ‘de Chasse, modified for two with a canopy. Dan suddenly felt sick to his stomach. The Spider turned to him and smiled, which did nothing to relieve his sudden nausea.