Indiana Jones and the Sword of St. George by Susanna Chapter 1

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Chapter 13

"Well," Indy began, his voice breaking the stillness, "I guess we'll just hafta go investigate the church. I can't imagine why…well, perhaps the Italians…I don't know."
"That's unusual," Lauren commented.
"That you don't know." Indy smiled, but his smile then turned into a huge yawn.
"What I'd give for a nice bed and some sleep right now."
"Me too." They continued conversing as they walked down the empty streets - almost like a nervous habit, as the sound of their voices was reassuring in the strange silence surrounding them. Lauren observed her surroundings. The churches were truly magnificent - though time had eroded their stone faces, they still stood impressively tall in the center of the city. They marched towards the greatest church of them all, which Lauren assumed was St. Georges'. Indy looked about him nervously…years of dangerous situations had given him a sort of sense about this sort of thing…and he didn't like the signals it was giving him. Something was clearly not right. Could it be that…Indy stopped and grunted in self-disgust at his thoughts. Since when did he believe in hokey fairy tales and legends? I'm not gonna start now, he told himself. Suddenly, however, a figure caught his eye. Were his eyes fooling him? Indy stared intently at the steps leading up to the church.
Yes…sitting quietly on the steps was a solitary girl dressed in elaborate traditional robes. Thin and frail, she sat watching them almost as if she was expecting their visit. Indy's eyebrows rose. As her face came into focus he realized it was indeed a beautiful one - almost angelic in its perfect symmetry and crystalline features. Her age was impossible to place - part girl, part woman - she looked timeless gazing at them from the church steps. Lauren, too, noted the strange girl-woman's presence. Indy walked hurriedly up to her.
"Hey there," he said, smiling. His exhaustion evaporating, he looked with great interest at the robed, mysterious creature before him. She would undoubtedly provide him with some answers, and, if he was lucky, with more than that…But the girl simply stood up and stared him straight in the eye. Indy backed away slightly, unnerved by her piercing gaze. "Nice to meet you," Indy began again. "I'm Indiana Jones, Indy to my friends. Who are you? And where is everybody here?" Still no response. Indy tried several different languages, but to no avail. The girl simply stood transfixed staring at him. Man, Indy thought, I didn't think I was that handsome. Lauren shifted beside him, and her presence reminded him why he was there in the first place. "All right. I see you're a girl of few words. Would you mind moving outta the way though? I've got work to do," he continued, trying to walk around the girl and open the door to the church. Indy reached towards the handle of the door, but before he could grasp it…
Wham! Indy found himself flat on the ground, struggling for breath. What? He flipped over, looking around for his adversary. He didn't have to look far. An insane gleam in her previously tranquil eyes, the girl towered above him, glaring.
"What'd I do wrong?" Indy gasped out, scampering out of the way. "I didn't mean any harm." The girl, with supernatural speed, reached out and grabbed him before he could leave. Lauren watched in horror as she picked Indy up effortlessly and slammed him viciously against the ground. Ouch! Indy felt sure he had broken one of his ribs, at the very least. He lay there for a minute, looking up, certain he should move but somehow unable to. The girl then catalyzed him into action. She had pulled a metal rod, which began glowing red as she held it, out of her colorful traditional robes. Waving it towards Indy, she marched forward, eventually backing him into a corner further down the street. Indy glanced above him. He was underneath an apartment building of sorts. Indy grabbed his whip, ready to lash it out against his bizarre opponent.
With an impossibly swift movement, however, the girl sent the whip flying out his hands and brought the burning rod down on Indy's shoulder. Indy screamed in pain. This was madness! He had never seen anything quite like the girl, if that's what she was, before. Using all his remaining strength, Indy jumped up and grabbed onto the edge of the balcony protruding from the second floor apartment and then flipped himself over onto the balcony itself. In the split second before the girl flew up to meet him, Indy then jumped through the window into the apartment. He looked around frantically, finding himself in a small kitchen. In desperation, he grabbed at a shiny silver knife that lay on the table.
The girl flung herself though the window and almost floated towards Indy, who backed away, expecting the worst. As the burning rod came down upon him, Indy instinctively raised the shiny knife, though he knew it was useless against the creature he was facing. This is it, he thought, wide-eyed with terror. Or was it? As he raised the knife it became a mirror as the light streaming through the window bounced off of it. For an instant, the girl-creature stared into the knife and caught a glimpse of her impossibly beautiful, grayish silver eyes. And vanished.
Indy blinked. Could it be? Or was he dreaming? He lay frozen in his place for a few minutes, shaking with shock. Was he hallucinating? He moved his shoulder carefully, and the sharp pain it caused him reminded him otherwise. Beyond puzzled, he raised the knife again, as though he felt it would provide him with a revelation, but then turned it and looked at it himself. He saw no answer to the mystery and instead was faced with his own his own half-shaven, weary reflection. I look awful, and for good reason, he realized, as he tried to get to his feet. As, with foreboding, Indy walked back down to the center square across from the church, Lauren sat cowering as far from the church door as she could, begging for Indy to return. With every second, however, she lost more and more hope. Indy would come back, she told herself. He would explain it all to her. He would know.
"I don't know," Indy stated minutes later as he tried to comfort an astonished Lauren after telling her of his miraculous escape. I could use some comforting myself, he thought. It had really been quite a shock, not to mention the unpleasantness of being burned, kicked and thrown to the ground. "I don't know why she vanished. There's one thing I can tell you, though. The Italians somehow managed to unleash something here…and we've got to stop it before it does any more damage."
"Any more damage? What has it done already?" Lauren asked anxiously.
"Well…empty this whole city." Lauren gasped.
"You think-" she began, and then stopped abruptly. She was still struggling to comprehend what she had heard and witnessed. All her life she'd believed the world was orderly and logical. Things like that just didn't happen. But in one instant, she'd been proved totally wrong.
"What?" Indy prompted her, bringing her back to reality. Perhaps it had been an illusion. Everything seemed so perfectly ordinary, Lauren thought as she looked around from her seat on the steps leading up to the church.
"Never mind," she responded. "It's just that…don't you find that a bit hard to believe?" Indy paused, not sure of what to say. I'm not even quite sure what to think at this point. As much as…there are just some things that are undeniable…yet it all has to make sense somehow, he thought, getting to his feet slowly, wincing. There was only one thing to do, Indy realized. They had to find the sword and see what had caused the entire city to disappear. But if it was true…they were sure gonna have a tough time.
"There's only one way to find out what's going on here," Indy answered at last. "And that's to go in," he continued, gesturing at the church door. "But I'm warning you. If the Italians did indeed…well, to make a long story short, we may have some trouble here. We can turn back now, if you want to." Lauren looked at Indy closely - though he was clearly exhausted, his face shone with an intense curiosity and excitement. Although his words offered an option the gleam in his eyes belied his true feelings. He would not turn back - the question was simply for her benefit.
"No. I'm coming along. Let's go," Lauren replied with far more confidence than she felt and got to her feet.
"All right. But from now on, there's no turning back."


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