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Part 13

The large gap-toothed guard backhanded the Spider again and this time the hero went down. His hat was gone but he still wore his mask. Dan struggled against his captors but they held him on his knees. As the Spider got back up to his knees, Professor Irons leaned over and grabbed his face. The Spider pulled away, so the Professor grabbed the back of his head as well, gripping him with both of his metal hands.

“Who are you, Hmmm? Curiosity gets the better of me.” The Professor threw back the Spider’s head and then motioned to two bruised guards standing nearby.

“Remove the mask.”

The guards yanked the Spider’s scarf off his neck roughly while a second man pushed the Spider’s head forward. On the back of the mask were no strings, no rope, no binds or clasps, just two simple metal buckles. The second guard continued to hold the Spider’s head down as the Spider pushed and fought back, while the first guard angrily pulled at the buckles.

“It is not opening, sir.” The first guard said.

“I am not surprised.” Professor Irons said, leaning over to see the buckles.

“Magnetically locked, no? Quite ingenious. I could remove it myself but alas, that is all the time I have for guests this evening.”

The Professor waved his metal hand to his guards and turned for the door.

“Tie them up and bring them to the air ship.”

The guards hoisted Dan and the Spider to their feet. There were six men left with them while the others followed Professor Irons out of the room. One of the guards unravelled a long roll of rope but as the guards forced their arms behind their back, Dan suddenly heard the soft hiss of the Spider’s Bite. One of the guards dropped to the floor unconscious and the Spider was on the second man before he could release the Spider’s arm. The Bite hit the man in the side of the neck, followed by a hiss and the guard dropped to the ground as well. Dan finally moved, pulling away from the two men that held him. Spinning around, Dan caught one of the guards flush on the jaw and knocked him out cold. The rest of the guards were taken down quickly and quietly, but both men knew the rest of the guards could return at any moment. They were both too bruised and battered to want to get into another brawl with an army of soldiers. Silently they snuck back through the doors leading to the main facility.

“You know where we’re going?” Dan whispered.

“I managed to get a good look at the facility when they were dragging us through it, yeah.” The Spider replied.

Battered and tired, the two men rushed back through the facility, Dan following the Spider’s lead. Eventually his injuries got the better of him and Dan stopped, leaning against a concrete wall in a dimly lit tunnel.

“I’m a little balled up here, Spider. Better go on without me.”

For a moment the Spider stared at him. Dan did not know if he was considering his options or sizing up Dan up, but it made him uncomfortable.

“Come on, sport. You can’t fix up my guts, so get a move on and find Jessica!”

The Spider finally nodded and disappeared down the tunnel. They did not exchange any words, there was no need. Chances were neither of them was getting out of the Professor’s underground smelting factory alive anyway. Dan watched the Spider turn back just once down at the end of the tunnel and then he disappeared.

Closing his eyes, Dan tried to figure out where the pain in his body was coming from. It felt us if his ribs were bruised but none of them felt broken. Dan lay against the wall and stretched his feet out until they touched the opposite wall. The pain felt like indigestion mixed with broken glass. Something wasn’t right in his gut, Dan could tell that for sure. The beating he’d taken hadn’t done it, but it had aggravated something that he’d been dealing with a long time. The stress of his life had given him a stomach ulcer and although it had been a while since it had acted up, it was not something that would ever go away. The sounds of boots reached Dan’s ears and he lifted himself up by leaning against the wall. Dan did not want to lead anyone in the same direction as the Spider so instead he looked for another path. There were no other tunnels but a few feet away there were two black pipes with a small gap between them. On the other side of the pipes was another passage way, one that led into a completely different part of the facility. If he could just squeeze through the two horizontal pipes, he could probably find another place to hide. The space was big enough for his head to fit through, but Dan was not so sure about the rest of him. Rather than go head first, he slid his feet between the pipes and then slowly squeezed the rest of his body through. As soon as his stomach was between the pipes the pain exploded in his stomach and he gritted his teeth. Two guards enter the tunnel, heading in his direction. They were armed but they did not see him; one of them was talking and waving his arm around.

‘Come on, come on, come on,’ Dan said to himself as he squeezed his chest through the small space.

Finally he slipped through, dropping out the other side just as the men walked past him. Had they looked through the pipes they’d have seen him clutching his stomach, leaning against the wall but they did not. Once he was sure they were gone he bolted up a set of steel stairs toward a red door. There was wood between the metal infrastructure and Dan realized there must have been a room on the other side, built in the same manner as the living room. Dan prayed it was a bedroom that he could lay down in for a while until the fire in his stomach passed but as he quietly opened the door he saw something else entirely. Towering over him was a massive statue. It’s body was human but it’s head was a menacing looking jackal. The statue’s body was a soft sandstone white with a hint of brown, but the jackal’s head was black as obsidian. It was Anubis, the God of the Afterlife and Dan suddenly realized Professor Irons was far more insane than he’d ever suspected.