Indiana Jones and the Creature From the Black Lagoon

Chapter 15

They reached the center of village in moments, the old chieftain moving faster than Indy would have guessed. The villagers stood in small protective groups, the men holding the sobbing women. On the ground, a young man was sprawled in a pool of blood. Indy stared in horror at Murphy, who was holding a smoking Colt .32 pistol.

"What the hell did you do, Murphy? These people were being hospitable, for Christ's sake!"

"To hell with table manners and Emily Post, Jones!" Murphy shouted, spittle flecking his lips. "We're dying of heat here, and these people won't give us the goods. It's getting dark, and I wanna get the gold and get out of here. They needed some persuading."

"There's no goddamn gold! No treasure! These people are fishermen. There's probably not even any gold in this region, you idiot!"

"Bullshit! Now you tell the old man to give it up, or he's next!"

"Like hell I will!" Indy looked back at the Collinsworths, who milled about sheepishly at the edge of the camp. "Are you going to just stand by and let this happen? Chloe, this man is murdering people!"

"They're hiding it!" Chloe shouted venomously. "Can't you see that? They're lying to you! Oh, I can see past their blank looks and their gibbering amongst themselves! They don't fool me! Dale is just reminding them what their place is."

"Tell the savages to cooperate, Doctor Jones," Blake said in a shockingly reasonable tone. "We haven't time for this nonsense, and I will not be waylaid by some ignorant tribal people."

"Goddamn it, Murphy," Indy said in disgust. He was consumed by a sense of complete failure. He was the lone voice of reason here, shouting into the void.

Murphy raised the gun and leveled it at Otan's head. "Do it, Jones. After him, you'll just have to ask someone else. There are plenty to go through. Hell, we can kill them all with the ammo we got."

Indy fumbled for the Smith & Wesson, but stopped when he felt steel against his left cheek. He looked over. During the shouting match, Taylor had moved in behind him and was now holding a modified machine-pistol against his head. Indy had the wild thought that it was the same kind John Dillinger was fond of. He'd seen it in the newspaper.

"Why don't you just lose that?" Taylor said plainly. The execution of an innocent man clearly didn't ruffle him. Indy dropped the revolver.

"Last chance, Jones."

Indy turned his body like he was going to speak to Otan, just enough to dislodge the gun from his face. Then he took all the adrenaline welling up in his system and funneled it into action. He stepped back and threw out his left elbow, burying it in Taylor's kidney, while his right hand grabbed the handle of his bullwhip and swung it out it in a viscous arc, cracking through the air and biting deep into Murphy's wrist. The man cried out in pain and dropped the little automatic. Indy spun and landed a haymaker directly into Taylor's jaw.

"Shoot him!" Murphy shouted. Muzzles swung around, too many to run from. Too far away to disarm with the whip. All Indiana Jones could do was tense and wait for the storm of bullets.

Then the howling began-a soul-chilling sound that skirted the edge of human vocal sounds-and not the cry of just one creature, but of dozens of voices joined in rage and purpose. The group froze.

The jungle parted like stage curtains, disgorging the monster.

"Shit!" Closterman shouted and fired both shotgun barrels at the creature, blowing it off its feet. "Get back, it might not be dead!" He shouted as he reloaded the double-barreled shotgun. He'd gotten one shell loaded when the second creature was on him. He managed a scream, which quickly became a gurgling choke.

The scene became pandemonium in a split second. Villagers screamed and bolted, running in all directions while the gunmen swung their weapons between the doomed Closterman, and the jungle's edge and potential areas of attack. "Jesus, there's more of the things!" Murphy shouted.

Schultz reacted first, firing a raking burst from his Bergmann, hitting both the creature and the bleeding Closterman before a pair of massive, clawed hands burst from the undergrowth and closed over his face. He flailed, still firing the gun with one hand, and clawed uselessly at the thick, scaly arms with other.

Indy hit the deck, groping for the revolver when he heard Blake Collinsworth cry out. He looked up. One of the massive creatures had wrenched Schultz's head to an unnatural angle and lifted him off his feet, the submachine gun falling to the ground beneath him. Another creature raked his midriff with its claws, and Indy winced at the sight of the man's entrails spilling from his body.

Taylor had regained his composure, but ignored Indy and was firing the machine pistol one-handed at an advancing group of monsters. He didn't see the two storming from the underbrush, claws outstretched. Indy scrambled to his feet, abandoning the gun's recovery, and lashed out with the bullwhip. Ten feet of tapering kip hide reached out and split the air near their faces, causing them to recoil and back away snarling.

A tree trunk to Indy's left exploded at the same time Friedman's shotgun boomed, causing him to flinch protectively against the spray of and wooden shrapnel. He looked over his shoulder to see the man firing madly in all directions and racking the pump frantically. "Check your fire!" Taylor shouted as he slapped a fresh extended magazine into the machine pistol.

A woman screamed and more shots rang out. Pistol cartridges. Indy looked in the direction of the shooting and saw that Murphy had grabbed a local woman and was using her as a shield. At her feet was one of the village men who'd obviously tried to stop him. Like hell you are… Indy thought and rushed the man.

Murphy saw him coming, swung the Colt around, but a furious bellow caught his attention. One of the creatures was lumbering toward him, its arms outstretched, and bleeding from a pair of wounds on its side. Murphy decided to ignore Indy and instead emptied the magazine at the advancing monster. The .32 rounds were relatively weak, but five of them fired at close range were enough to bring the already-injured monster to its knees.

By that time, Indy was close enough to snatch the village woman from Murphy's grip. The man was still focused on the monster-now in its death-throes-and the women came free easily. Indy threw a punch into the middle of the man's surprised expression. Murphy's head snapped back and he staggered, but kept his footing. Indy dropped into a boxer's crouch, his fists raised. Murphy pointed the Colt, then saw it was empty and threw it at Indy, catching him in the forearm he'd raised defensively. Pain, flashed through the entire arm as steel met bone with the help of velocity. Murphy pressed his advantage, rushing forward and throwing a fist low into Indy's stomach. The air went out of him, and he almost went to his knees, but Murphy was throwing a left hook at his jaw. Indy threw up his left arm to block Murphy's punch and felt the pain in that arm increase exponentially. Ignoring it, he threw a right jab into Murphy's face, driving him backward.

Murphy recovered quickly and adopted a boxer's stance that was tighter than Indy's. He spat blood. "I bet you've been dying to lay one on me since we met," he taunted.

"Just about," Indy said.

"Well, why don't you try and teach me a lesson, professor?"

"Somehow I doubt you're a good student."

They circled each other, for a few more seconds, fists raised, until Indy finally threw a left hook. Murphy dodged it, but caught a devastating uppercut that threw him off his feet. He landed on his side and tried to roll away, scrabbling like a crab. It was so pathetic, Indy's fury was almost tempered with embarrassment for the man. Almost.

"School's out, Murphy. Get on your feet. You're gonna answer for those people you killed."

"Not me, Jones." Murphy snarled, rolling onto his back to reveal Indy's revolver in his fist. He wasn't trying to get away from me, Indy realized, once again feeling the dupe. Motion to Murphy's right caught his attention, but he didn't give it away.

Murphy cocked the hammer. "What's wrong, Jones? Not so tough anymore?"

"Keep talking, Murphy," Indy said.

"I think we're done, sport."

"I mean it, Indy said. "Keep talking. It's buying that thing some time."

Confusion clouded Murphy's features, "What time…" and then he screamed as the injured creature lashed out with one massive hand, the claws cutting deep into Murphy's wrist, slicing through muscle and tendon, separating the hand from the wrist. Murphy screamed in pain and horror, staring at the bleeding stump, oblivious to the injured monster crawling over to him.

Indy retrieved his revolver (thankfully, the amputation had loosened its grip and he didn't have to remove the hand from the gun). Murphy was still screaming, but Indy ignored it. The man was no longer important to the scene of carnage unfolding around him.

Taylor was wrestling with one of the creatures and losing badly, beating it with his empty machine pistol to no effect. A few hundred feet away, Friedman was crumpled beside his shotgun, his back sliced to ribbons. Indy made out voices.

"Chloe…Chloe, honey, we've got to go. We've got to get out of here, you have to wake up, dear…" Blake Collinsworth knelt beside his sister, gently shaking her by the shoulders, his eyes wide and crazed. Chloe Collinsworth's eyes were open and glassy, her expression dazed. There was a neat, round bullet hole in her left temple. Behind them, the jungle moved.

"Blake!" Indy shouted, but it was too late. Two pairs of arms reached out and dragged the Collinsworths into the jungle, Blake still calling out for his sister.

And now Indy was alone. Perhaps two dozen of the creatures had poured into the village to join the attack and now they were slowly realizing that Indy was the last of their foe standing. They roared and growled and began a lumbering advance. Indy scanned the mass, making eye contact as often as possible. He didn't know if these things would react the same way as other predators and accept his dominance, but it was the only thing he had. That, a bullwhip, and six bullets.

"Stop!" Otan's voice rang out. He appeared at Indy's side and held up his hands. "Stop!" he shouted again. The monsters roared in response, but other villagers were joining them now, gathering around them, and facing the creatures with their hands outstretched.

The beasts slowly stopped advancing and held their ground fitfully. Indy felt the energy and aggression among them barely contained, and held his breath as he waited to see whether it dissipated or exploded. After several long minutes, the creatures turned away, disinterested, and began moving back toward the jungle.

"How did you do that?" Indy breathed.

"We showed them that you were under our protection. They respect that." Otan said. "Especially since they have their offering." He gestured to the creatures. They were dragging the bodies into the jungle.

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