Sunday, March 29, 2009

Doc Savage: Man of Bronze (part 5 of 22)

By Lester Dent writing as Kenneth Robeson
V -- The Fly That Jumped

Astounded silence gripped the group.
"You mea …" Johnny muttered, blinking through his glasses, "You mean this fellow really speaks the tongue of ancient Maya?"
Doc nodded. "He sure does."
"It's fantastic!" Johnny grumbled. "Those people vanished hundreds of years ago. At least, all those that comprised the highest civilization did. A few ignorant peons were probably left. Even those survive to this day. But as for the higher-class Mayan" -- he made a gesture of something disappearing -- "Poof! Nobody knows for sure what became of them."
"They were a wonderful people," Doc said thoughtfully. "They had a civilization that probably surpassed ancient Egypt."
"Ask him why he paints his fingers red?" Monk requested, unfazed by talk of lost civilizations.
Doc put the query in the tongue-flapping Mayan tongue.
The stocky man gave a surly answer.
"He says he's one of the warrior sect," Doc translated. "Only members of the warrior sect sport red fingertips."
"Well, I'll be dag-gone!" Monk snorted.
"He won't talk any more," Doc advised. Then he added grimly, "We'll take him down to the office and see if he won't change his mind."
Searching the prisoner, Doc dug up a remarkable knife. It had a blade of obsidian -- a darksome, glass-like volcanic rock -- and the edge rivaled a razor in cutting qualities. The handle was simply a leather thong wrapped around and around the upper end of the obsidian shaft.
This knife Doc appropriated. He picked up the prisoner's double-barreled elephant rifle. The marvelous weapon was manufactured by the Webley & Scott firm of England.
Monk eagerly took charge of the captive, booting him ungently out to the street and to their taxi.
Swishing downtown through the rain and speaking through the taxi window, Doc tried again to persuade the stocky prisoner to talk.
The fellow disclosed only one fact. And Doc had already guessed that.
"He says he's really a Mayan," Doc translated for the others.
"Tell him I'll pull his ears off an' feed 'em to him if he don't come clean!" Monk suggested.
Anxious himself to note the effect of torture threats on the Mayan, Doc repeated Monk's remarks.
The Mayan shrugged and clucked in his native tongue.
"He says," Doc explained, "that the trees in his country are full of them like you. Only smaller. He means monkeys."
Ham let out a howl of laughter at that … and Monk subsided.

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Rain was threshing down less vigorously when they pulled up before the gleaming office building that spiked up nearly a hundred stories. Entering, they rode the elevator to the 86th floor.
The Mayan again refused to talk.
"If we just had some truth serum," suggested Long Tom, running pale fingers through his blond, Nordic hair.
Renny held up a monster fist. "This is all the truth serum we need. I'll show you how it works!"
Big -- with sloping mountains of gristle for shoulders and long kegs of bone and tendon for arms -- Renny slid over to the Library door. His fist came up.
Wham! Completely through the stout panel Renny's fist pistoned! It seemed more than bone and tendon could stand. But when Renny drew his knuckles out of the wreckage and blew off the splinters, they were unmarked.
Having demonstrated what he could do, Renny came back and towered threateningly over their captive.
"Talk to him in that gobble he calls a 'language', Doc. Tell him he's in for the same thing that door got if he don't tell us whether your father was murdered. And if he was, who did it? And we want to now why he tried to shoot us!"
The prisoner only sat in stoical silence. He was scared but determined to suffer any violence rather than talk.
"Wait, Renny," Doc suggested. "Let's try something more subtle."
"For instance?" Renny inquired.
"Hypnotism," said Doc. "If this man is of a savage race, his mind is probably susceptible to hypnotic influence. It's no secret that many savages hypnotize themselves to such an extent that they think they see their pagan gods come and talk to them."
Positioned directly before the stocky Mayan, Doc began to exert the power of his amazing golden eyes. They seemed to turn into shifting, gleaming piles of the flaked yellow metal, holding the prisoner's gaze inexorably and exerting a compelling, authoritative influence.
For a minute, the squat Mayan was quiet except for his bulging eyes. He swayed a little in his chair. Then with a piercing yell in his native tongue, the prisoner lunged backward out of his chair.
The Mayan's plunge carried him toward Renny. But the big-fisted giant had been watching Doc so intently he must have been a little hypnotized himself. He was slow breaking the spell. Reaching for the Mayan, he missed.
Straight to the window, the squat Mayan sped. A wild jump and he shot head-first through it … to his death!

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Awed silence was in the room for a while.
"He realized that he was going to be made to talk," Ham clipped, whipping his waspish frame over to the window to look callously down. "So he killed himself."
"Wonder what can be behind all this?" Long Tom puzzled, absently inspecting his unhealthy-looking features as reflected by the polished table-top.
"Let's see if the message my father left written on the window won't help," Doc suggested.
They followed Doc to the Library in a group. "Important papers back of the red brick …" read the message in invisible ink which could only be detected by ultraviolet light. They were all curious to know where the papers were and anxious to see that they were intact. Above all, they wanted to know the nature of these "important papers".
Doc had the box which manufactured ultraviolet rays under his arm. On into the Laboratory, he led the cavalcade.
Every one noticed instantly that the Laboratory floor was of brick with a rubber matting scattered here-and-there.
Monk looked like he understood … then his jaw fell. "Huh?"
The floor bricks were all red!
Doc plugged the ultraviolet apparatus into a light socket. He switched off the Laboratory lights. Deliberately, he played the black-light rays across the brick floor. The darkness was intense.
And suddenly one brick was shining with an unholy red luminance. The brick was the lid of a secret little cavity in the floor. The elder Savage had treated it with some substance that had the property of glowing red under the black-light beams.
From the secret cavity, Doc lifted a packet of papers wrapped securely in an oilskin cloth that looked like a fragment of slicker. Ham clicked on the lights. They gathered around, eagerly waiting.
Doc opened the papers. They were very official looking, replete with gaudy seals. And they were printed in Spanish.
One-at-a-time as he finished glancing over them, Doc passed the papers to Ham. The astute lawyer studied them with great interest. At last Doc was completely through the papers. He looked at Ham.
"These papers are a concession from the government of Hidalgo," Ham declared. "They give to you several hundred square miles of land in Hidalgo, providing you pay the government of Hidalgo $100,000 yearly and 1/5th of everything you remove from this land. And the concession holds for a period of 99 years."
Doc nodded. "Notice something else, Ham? Those papers are made out to me. Me, mind you! Yet they were executed 20 years ago. I was only a kid then."
"You know what I think?" Ham demanded.
"Same thing I do, I'll bet," Doc replied. "These papers are the title to the Legacy that my father left me. The legacy is something that he discovered 20 years ago."
"But what is the legacy?" Monk wanted to know.
Doc shrugged. "I haven't the slightest idea, brothers. But you can bet it's something well worthwhile! My father was never mixed up in piker deals. I have heard him treat a million-dollar transaction as casually as though he were buying a cigar."
Pausing, Doc looked steadily at each of his men in turn. The flaky-gold of his eyes shimmered strange lights. He seemed to read the thoughts of each.
"I'm going after this heritage my father left," he said at length. "I don't need to ask … You fellows are with me?"
"And how!" grinned Renny. And the others echoed his sentiment.

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Planting the papers securely in a chamois money belt about his powerful waist, Doc walked back into the Library and then into the other room.
"Did the Mayan race hang out in Hidalgo?" Renny asked abruptly, eyeing his enormous fist.
Fiddling with his glasses that had the magnifying lens , Johnny took it upon himself to answer.
"The Mayans were scattered over a large part of Central America," he said. "But the Itzans -- the clan whose dialect our late prisoner spoke -- were situated in Yucatan during the height of their civilization. However, the republic of Hidalgo is not far away, being situated among the rugged mountains farther inland."
"I'm betting this Mayan and Doc's heritage are tied up somewhere," declared Long Tom, the electrical wizard.
Doc stood facing the window. With his back to the light, his strong bronze face was not sharply outlined except when he turned slightly to the right-or-left to speak. Then the light play seemed to accentuate its remarkable qualities of character.
"The thing for us to do now is corner the man who was giving the Mayan orders," he said slowly.
"Huh? You think there's more of your enemies?" Renny demanded.
"The Mayan showed no signs of understanding the English language," Doc elaborated. "Whoever left the warning in this room wrote it in English and was educated enough to understand the ultraviolet apparatus. That man was in the building when the shot was fired because the elevator operator said no one came in between the time we left and got back. Yes, brothers, I don't think we're out-of-the-woods yet!"
Doc went over to the double-barreled elephant rifle which had been in possession of the Mayan. He inspected the manufacturer's number. He grasped the telephone.
"Get me the firearms manufacturing firm of Webley & Scott in Birmingham, England," he told the phone operator. "Yes, of course -- England! Where the Prince of Wales lives."
To his friends, Doc explained: "Perhaps the firm that made the rifle will know to whom they sold it."
"Somebody will cuss over in England when he's called out of bed by long-distance phone from America," Renny chuckled.
"You forget the 5 hours' time difference," clipped waspish Ham. "It is now early morning in England. They'll just be getting up."
Doc was facing the window again, apparently lost in thought. Actually -- while standing there a moment before -- he had felt vaguely that something was out-of-place about the window.
Then he got it! The mortar at one end of the granite slab which formed the windowsill was fresher than on the other side. The strip of mortar was no wider than a pencil mark. Yet Doc noticed it. He leaned out the window.
A fine wire -- escaping from the room through the mortared crack -- ran downward! It entered a window below.
Doc flashed back into the room. His supple, sensitive but steel-strong hands explored. He brought to light a tiny microphone of the type radio announcers call lapel mikes.
"Somebody has been listening!" His powerful voice throbbed through the room. "In the room below! Let's look into that!"

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No puff of wind could have gone out of the room and down the stairs more speedily than Doc made it. The distance was 60 feet. Doc had covered it all before his men were out of the upstairs room. And they had moved as quickly as they could.
Whipping over where the wall could shelter him from ordinary bullets, Doc tried the doorknob. Locked! He exerted what for him was only a mild pressure. Wood splintered, brass mechanism of the lock gritted and tore … and the door hopped ajar.
A pistol crashed in the room! The bullet came close enough to Doc's bronzed features that he felt the cold stir of air. A second lead missile followed. The powder noise was a great bawl of sound. Both bullets chopped plaster off the elaborately decorated corridor wall.
Within the room, a door slammed.
Doc instantly slid inside. Sure enough, his quarry had retreated to a connecting office.
All this had taken flash parts-of-a-second. Doc's men were only now clamoring at the door.
"Keep back!" Doc directed. He liked to fight his own battles. And there seemed to be only one man opposing him.
Doc crossed the office, treading new-looking cheap carpet. He circled a second-hand oak desk with edges blackened where cigarette stubs had been placed carelessly. He tried the connecting door.
It was also locked. But it gave like wet cardboard before his powerful shove. Alert and almost certain a bullet would meet him, he doubled down close to the floor. He knew he could bob into view and back before the man inside could pull trigger.
But the place was empty!
Once … twice … three times … Doc counted his own heartbeats. Then he saw the explanation.
A stout silken cord -- with hardwood rods about the size of fountain pens tied every foot-or-so for handholds -- draped out of the open window. The end of the cord was tied to a stout radiator leg. And a tense jerking showed a man was going down it.
With a single leap, Doc was at the window. He looked down.
Of the man descending the cord, little could be told. In the streaming darkness, he was no more than a black lump.
Doc drew back and whipped out his flashlight. When he played it down the cord, the man was gone!
The fellow had ducked into a window.
The flash went into Doc's pocket. Doc himself clambered over the windowsill. Grasping the silken cord, he descended. Thanks to the coordination of his great muscles, Doc negotiated the cord just about as fast as a man could run.
He passed the first window. It was closed. The office beyond it was dark and deserted-looking.
Doc went on down. He had not seen what window the quarry had disappeared into. The second window was also closed. And the third! Doc knew then that he had passed the right window. The man could not have gone this far down the cord.
It was typical of Doc that he did not give even a glance to what was below -- a sheer fall of hundreds-of-feet. So far downward did the brick-and-glass wall extend that it seemed to narrow with distance until it was only a yard-or-so across. And the street was wedge-shaped at the bottom as though cut with a great, sharp knife.
Doc had climbed a yard upward when the silk cord gave a violent jerk. He looked up.
A window had opened. A man had shoved a chair through it and was pushing on the cord so as to swing Doc out away from the building. The murk of the night hid the man's face. But it was obvious that he was Doc's quarry.
Like a rock on the end of the silken rope, Doc was swung out several feet from the building. He would have to chance to grab a windowsill.
The man above flashed a hand for the cord. A long knife glistened in the hand!

To Be Continued...Tomorrow!

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  2. Glass Agencies are Manufacturer & Exporter of all type of Laboratory Glassware, Scientific, surgical, medical, hospital, laboratory, dairy, milk testing instruments & equipments under EROSE brand including Chemical, charts, models & Slides

    Kindly send us your requirement so that we can quote to you our best prices

    Regards
    NITIN (Export Manager)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    An ISO 9001:2000 and D&B Certified Company
    From : M/S Glass Agencies,
    5309, Anaj Mandi,
    Ambala Cantt-133001(India).
    Ph : 0091-171-2633027 (Office),
    Ph : 0091-171-3293186 (Res),
    Fax : 0091-171-2640566
    Cell: 0091-9416024836 & 9896807858
    E-Mails : glass@sancharnet.in
    glass321@yahoo.com
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