Title: The Peralta Stones
Summary: While searching for Native American artifacts in Arizona, Indiana Jones finds something he wasn't looking for: The Lost Dutchman's Goldmine.
Indiana Jones shuddered as a wave of nausea and pain passed through his frame. Was he lying on a cactus? If he was, he didn't seem to mind the discomfort much. Just feet away from his aching bones was the still wriggling body of a dead diamondback rattler.
Indy reached down with trembling fingers to inspect the oozing snakebite wounds on his right calf. The tiny puncture wounds pulsed with deadly pain. Indy made an effort to peel off his leather jacket and gasped as he did so. His ribs were sore from colliding roughly with the desert floor after his horse had spotted the snake and bucked him off. Indy ripped the seam of his left sleeve and attempted to make a tourniquet to stem the flow of venom throughout his system.
Long after the snake's body had stiffened Indy lay shivering in the Arizona desert. His entire body ached and buzzed strangely. It seemed funny that after all of his adventures and experiences he was not destined to die in a foreign land, but in the United States by, of all things . . . a snake.
The Peralta Stones peeked out of his satchel where they had been dropped when Indy had fallen from his horse. The stones were pieces of a map that supposedly led to a stash of Apache gold that was hidden in the Superstition Mountains near a landmark called Weaver's Needle. Indy hadn't meant to find the stones; he was searching for Native American artifacts, and not the Peralta's gold.
Indy knew the legend of the cursed Apache gold and he had crossed the Peralta massacre grounds in his search for hieroglyphs. The Peralta massacre grounds was where Don Miguel Peralta and a band of 400 of his men were ambushed and killed by Indians. Once Peralta and his men were dead the Apaches took the gold and stashed it, because while they had no use for it they knew that gold brought more foreigners. Now Indy was beginning to think that perhaps it wasn't just the gold that had been cursed, but the Peralta Stones as well.
As the desert sun beat down upon his bruised and aching body Indy longed for water. All of his supplies, including the water, had dashed off with the horse that had left him at the mercy of the rattler. Indy licked his dry lips and swallowed dryly.
Indy closed his eyes to the sun and listened to the sound of his own breathing. Despite the pounding in his head and the aches stabbing through him, he thought he could hear something coming in his direction. Maybe it was his horse coming back to save him from dehydration, or maybe it was just a coyote in search of jackrabbits.
Whatever it was it was headed straight for him. Indy's ears recognized the scraping of hooves on rocks. There was the braying of a mule followed shortly by the nicker of Indy's own horse.
Indy opened his eyes and blearily stared at the boots near his face. The thought that he was hallucinating crossed his mind. Yes, that was it, the snake venom was doing things to his head.
"Lost are we?" the man attached to the boots spoke and even in his poor state Indy recognized the distinct German accent in the man's tone.
Indy blinked in surprise; the last person he had expected to encounter here was a German. As the German touched Indy's sore calf with grizzled fingers Indy flinched, and then he realized that he wasn't dreaming.
"Rattlesnake bite, nasty way to go, eh? I should leave you out here to the buzzards and the coyotes, but you don't look like a miner or a claim jumper to me. Let's get out of the sun, and then I'll decide what to do with you."
Indy winced as he was pulled to his feet by strong arms.
"Who are you?" Indy asked as the German steered them to Indy's horse.
"Jacob Waltz," the man answered helping Indy into the saddle.
Indy felt confusion swimming in his dizzy thoughts. Waltz? Where had he heard that name before? He woozily gripped the saddle-horn as he watched Jacob pick up the satchel that was holding the Peralta Stones. Jacob took the stones out of the bag and put them into his mule's pack, and then he placed Indy's satchel over his own shoulder. The grizzled German grabbed both sets of reins and pointed them in the direction of Weaver's Needle.
When Indy woke up he was no longer in the exposed desert. He was somewhere dark and cool. There was a dim kerosene lantern lit beside his bed of an old saddle blanket, and it took his sight several minutes to adjust to the poor lighting. His wounds had been tended to, and there was a canteen of water at his side as well as some beef jerky. While he wasn't particularly interested in the jerky, Indy was very thirsty. With shaky hands he reached for the canteen.
The cool water slid down his throat soothing the nasty, dry mouth he had been suffering with for hours. He felt a bit better having quenched his thirst, and feeling heavy he drifted back into darkness.
It was morning when Indy woke to find himself feeling much better. As he glanced around the cave he was sheltered in he didn't see any sign of the German. Indy stumbled out of the cave thinking that perhaps Jacob was outside. No, there was only Indy's horse. Not even the mule that Jacob had pack his gear on was there. Indy reentered the cave. He gathered the supplies that he had been left with, and prepared to leave the cave. Something flashed in the corner of his eye.
Indy set his belongings down and lit the lantern that Jacob had left for him. The cave's floor glittered with gold dust, and there were little nuggets everywhere. Gold! Dizziness swept through Indy and he felt his vision blur. Somehow Jacob Waltz had rescued him. Waltz, man who was supposedly ruthless and deadly had spared him from a horrible demise. Not only that, but the man had been dead for several decades now.
Indy could hear Waltz's voice as his vision blurred again. He felt calloused hands grip him under the shoulders and force him to his feet.
"Time for you to be on your way schoolteacher. Your horse should have no trouble finding its way home from here. See to it that you do not return."
Jacob slapped Indy's horse and Indy had to hold on tight to the horn to keep from falling from the horse again.
From his hotel room in town Indy looked out at the Superstition Mountains. He sighed forlornly. He had seen the gold, he had even been in the mine, but if he had been asked to point out the place on a map or guide someone there he would not have been able to do it. He had returned to town empty handed; not even the Peralta Stones had been left to him.
Even if he told someone else what he'd been through they would think that he had just spent too much time in the desert sun. The gold wherever it was would remain lost, and Waltz's secret was still buried with him.