This is it people. The last chapter of Down Came the Rain. It was fun writing and I'm kind of sad it had to end, but you know the old saying: 'All good things must come to an end.' So enjoy and I'll see you again at the end.
Disclaimer: I don't own Spidey but if I did that would kind of make him my personal slave, wouldn't it…*evil snicker*
The bomb was leaking. The viral gas was beginning to fill the room in a pale greenish haze. Spiderman could smell the sickingly sweet scent of the gas permeating through the thin material of his mask and stinging his nostrils. His spider-sense was practically screaming in his head from the danger that was steadily enveloping his person.
For a moment, he felt the instinctive urge to hold his breath to keep the deadly vapors from entering his lungs. He knew it was a futile attempt, but the primal instinct of self preservation compelled him to defy logic. Deep down, he knew he had already been infected, as had everyone else in the room.
Tearing his eyes away from the metallic device that was spewing noxious fumes into the air, Spidey quickly looked around for Harry, Kathal and the two Iranian thugs. The middle easterners had disappeared. From the nearby metal staircase, Spiderman could hear their hurried receding footsteps fading below him. They must have made a run for it when his back had been turned on them towards the bomb.
Kathal had leapt towards the table loaded high with technical equipment, hurriedly rifting through the radios and miscellaneous machines piled there as if in search of something. Harry stood frozen against the wall, his eyes glued in a frightened stare at the growing green mist.
Spidey couldn't help but feel sorry for his old friend even though he had orchestrated the whole thing that was most probably going to in the end kill them all. But he couldn't worry about Harry or even Kathal and the fleeing terrorists right then. He had to somehow plug the leak and then figure out how to shut off the detonation timer on the bomb.
Leaping into the thickening cloud of green gas hovering over the compact device on the floor, Spiderman felt only one thing coursing through his body. Fear.
It's a basic human emotion felt at one time or another by every living person. But this was not the fear of being defeated by the enemy or even fear of dying. He had already proven his willingness to sacrifice his life to save another when he had stepped in front of the speeding bullets meant for Donald Collins and J. Jonah Jameson barely even two days before.
No, this was the fear of being responsible for the countless deaths of innocent people. Deaths that he could prevent from happening. Deaths that didn't have to happen if he could just somehow save the day. It was a weighty task, but one Spiderman could not disregard. With great power comes great responsibility, he had learned that the hard way. And his responsibility was to stop the terrorists from killing millions of people.
He already lived everyday feeling the weight of Norman Osborn and Ben Parker's deaths on his shoulders; feeling he could have somehow saved their lives if he had only tried. How would he feel if tens of millions died because he couldn't be the superhero he portrayed himself as by donning his mask and suit every night to patrol the city.
If he failed and died, surely there was a place in purgatory set aside just for him. A place where he would be tormented for eternity for failing to save the ones he had taken under his charge, the ones he had proven he couldn't protect in the end.
'I have to stop them' Spiderman thought in determination as he knelt beside the glass tube of liquefied viral gas. His spider-sense flared intensely as the thick noxious fumes billowed up into his face, almost making normal thinking impossible through the incessant buzzing. But he ignored the warning. He had already decided his fate.
In that moment of do or die, Spiderman no longer felt the searing pain in his wounded stomach or the throbbing headache that pounded in his temples. All he felt was the urgent need to stop anymore of the gas from escaping. On the little LCD screen placed on the side of the bomb, read the numbers 21:15. Seconds continued to rapidly tick away.
Aiming carefully, the wall crawler quickly threw back his wrists and expelled thick, gummy wads of webbing onto the stream of spurting green fumes. Slowly, the rushes of gas tapered off as Spiderman kept a steady stream of webbing flowing onto the puncture hole.
As he stood up to survey his handiwork, Spiderman suddenly felt totally drained of energy with an overwhelming sense of dizziness. Bringing a hand up to his head, he swayed on his feet from the vertigo struggling to get his bearings. An icy chill crawled along his skin making the web swinger shiver weakly.
Considering what he had gone through in the past forty-eight hours, it wasn't surprising that he felt exhausted. But this was different. There was something extremely wrong. And the worse part was, he knew why. He could almost feel the microorganisms of the virus coursing through his veins, rapidly wasting away and killing his body from the inside out. Gasping for air as if he had just run a five mile uphill sprint, he clutched his heaving chest.
'The virus shouldn't be working this quickly,' Spiderman thought helplessly as he tired to keep himself from collapsing to the ground, 'It must be working faster because I got a higher dose then what is needed to kill a person. If that's the case, then Harry, those other guys and I don't have much time."
His lungs burned as if they were on fire as he gulped deep lungful of the tainted air into his body. Even behind the semi-protective plastic of the bug-like eyepieces of his mask, Spiderman's eyes watered from the gas. Hot tears began to seep from the corners of his eyes and soak through his mask. Blinking back the water from his vision, Spidey searched through the misty greenish air for signs of Harry or Kathal. His spider-sense had lowered itself to a vibrating tingle; still warning Spidey of the lingering gas in the air.
Out of the corner of his eye, the wall crawler spotted the last fleeting glimpses of the bobbing head of a trench coat clad figure disappearing down the staircase on the far side of the room. Spidey recognized the man as the middle eastern terrorist leader. The sharp tapping of retreating shoes on stairs echoed back up to the observation room as the sound slowly diminished into the distance below as low thunder rumbled overhead.
Turning to instinctively chase down the fleeing man, Spiderman was suddenly halted by a familiar voice calling out to him, "Spiderman, wait. The bomb is still set to go off."
Narrowing his eyes to squint through the greenish mist blanketing the small room, Spidey made out the hazy outline of Harry Osborn coming towards him. But as the young CEO neared closer, Spidey felt as if he were looking onto the face of a total stranger.
His old friend's face suddenly looked twenty years older. His once dark and youthful eyes were bloodshot and sunk deep into their eye sockets over shrunken cheeks. The boy's complexion was sickly pale and ashen in the dim greenish hue cast through the room. The young Osborn staggered unsteadily towards Spidey on weakened legs.
The onsets of the deadly virus that still hung heavily in the air had turned Peter's friend into the living image of Death himself. A sickening feeling spread through Spiderman's stomach. He had a sinking suspicion that if he were to shed his mask and look into a mirror, he would not recognize his own reflection from the ghastly apparition that stared back at him.
Still in shock by Harry's deteriorated appearance, Spidey momentarily forgot about Kathal, and stuttered out weakly, "What did you say?"
"I said the bomb is still set to detonate. We have to stop the countdown," Harry wheezed, his chest lifting and falling in irregular intervals. His shoulders sagged almost as if his strength was slowly disappearing with every word he uttered.
Spiderman stood momentarily silent as he stared back at Osborn. Something inside the superhero made him suddenly angry as he accusingly snapped, "What do you mean 'we'? Not even an hour ago, you were hell bent on detonating this thing and killing millions of people. What happened? Now you want to stop it? Why should I trust you?"
Harry's eyes dropped to stare at the floor guiltily. He seemed to take on the appearance of a child being scolded by an adult, knowing he rightfully deserved it. Shifting his eyes about the room to look at everything but Spiderman himself, Harry muttered softly, "I can't let Kathal do this. I don't know what happened, but when I heard him say he was still going to detonate the bombs even after the government paid…I just knew this was wrong. I can't let this happen."
Spidey felt himself soften slightly at his friend's guilt ridden face. Maybe there was still hope for Harry. Maybe his old friend had finally decided to move on with his life to other things beside conniving for revenge against him and in turn endangering many other innocent lives. But as quickly as the wall crawler felt something growing between them, Harry added with a dangerously stern tone, "If we live through today, I still intend to avenge my father's death. Don't think that I've forgotten what you've done."
"Yeah I haven't forgotten," Spiderman muttered with a sigh, sorry that his friend couldn't let go of the hatred towards him. But he couldn't worry about that. There was still the bomb he had to worry about.
Snapping his head back down towards the cylindrical device sitting idly at his feet, Spidey remembered with a start that the clock was still steadily ticking away the minutes. In bright red digital numbers stared back the reading '16:35'
Dropping back to stoop beside the device, Spiderman poised his hands over the metal siding. "No better way to a problem then straight through the middle, I always say," the arachnid said as he wiggled his gloved fingers between the edges of two pieces of metal paneling.
Mustering his remaining strength into sore arms, he heaved back hard on the panel with a strained grunt of exertion, pulling a tangled mass of multicolored wires and circuits into his lap along with the siding. Dropping the piece of metal to the floor with a loud clatter, Spiderman sifted through the knotted wires.
He had gone over the printout that Collins had given him on the schematics of the bomb. He vaguely remembered there being a wire that connected the timer to the main compartment of the bomb. If he could get to that, he may be able to deactivate it.
Trailing his hand to the back of the LCD screen on the insides of the bomb's outer casing, Spiderman pulled three wires free from the others that were bundled inside the device.
From his side, Spidey felt Harry drop awkwardly from weakness onto his knees beside him. Not acknowledging his old friend's presence, Spiderman tried to focus his blurring vision on the delicate circuitry in his hands. His headache was getting worse. The pounding in his head was almost blinding as was his spider-sense which still rung sharply through his brain. But there wasn't much time left. '13:48'
'Oh no,' Spidey wanted to scream as he look at the wires he had pulled from the bomb, 'There're three wires. The schematics said there would only be one. Now what do I do?'
Fanning the three wires out in the palm of his hand, the superhero could make out the colors; red, green, and blue.
'Which one? Which one?' he panicked. Spidey could feel his lungs constricting tight in his chest as he struggled to keep a clear head through the virus' symptoms. If he pulled the wrong wire, he might detonate the bomb then and there or release the bomb's timer so that it would speed the explosion to within a few seconds. 'I'm a scientist, photographer, and a crime fighter and a lot of things in between, but being an electrician does not fall into that list.'
Beside him, the web swinger could sense Harry nervously shifting on his knees as though he were in indecision about something as he looked over his shoulder, slightly unnerving the arachnid.
Finally, the young CEO blurted out, "The red one. Pull the red one."
"In the movies, it's always the red one," he repeated frantically as he waved a hand towards the wires in Spidey's gloved hand. If Harry had been able to see through Spiderman's mask, he would have seen a very skeptical expression twisted onto Peter's face. He couldn't, but the dead silence from his superhero companion managed to convey the message all the same.
"Oh, and I suppose you have a better idea, web-head?" Harry snorted, annoyed at the silent rebuttal of his logic.
"Just let me get this straight. You want me to pull the red wire just because you saw it in a movie?" Spidey questioned sarcastically.
"Do you know how to disarm this thing then?" Harry retorted snidely, his eyebrows knotting together in frustration as the seconds continued to tick away on the small screen below him.
The only thing was, Spiderman didn't know how to disarm the viral bomb. He had not the foggiest idea of which wire to severe. In all his time of crime fighting thus far, the skills of bomb disarmment had not arisen until then.
"I always thought it was the green wire," Spidey murmured as Harry shot the web swinger another dirty look out of the corner of his eye.
Sighing in resignation, Spidey plucked the red wire from the others and let the other two drop to the tangled mess of circuitry in his lap. Holding the plastic insulated wire between his thumb and index, Spidey gripped a length of the wire around his other hand, preparing to pull it in two.
"Let's just hope I don't pull a Lethal Weapons II here…" he muttered as he pulled the wire taunt between his hands. Sucking in a tense breath of air as he winced his head away over his shoulder in anticipation of a sudden explosion, Spidey pulled hard on the wire as the dull snap of plastic and metal being forced apart sounded sharply against the background murmur of rain and thunder.
Thunder shook the entire structure as Kathal bounded down the stairs. Skipping every other step to gain distance, he slid one shaking hand along the greasy railing lining the staircase to keep his balance while his other held the handle of a small silver case in a death grip, turning his knuckles white. His heart pounded against his ribs in swift heavy beats, almost threatening to beat itself right out of his chest.
Kathal's echoing footsteps bounced deafeningly off the metal infrastructure of the Statue's torso as the man's feet pounded the metal stairs beneath him. Stealing a quick glimpse over his shoulder, Kathal nervously tried to distinguish any movement from a pursuer in the dark shadows that played across the curved walls from above the winding staircase as the lights that were strategically placed along the stairs flickered from electrical surges caused by the storm.
Every now and then he swore he saw the shimmering reflection of light off Spiderman's bug-like eyes shining through the shadows, clenching his stomach in panic before the apparition melded away into the darkness.
Ignoring the pain that seized his entire body and constricted his lungs as he ran, Kathal continued to descend the spiraling stairs, destined for the ground floor where he knew a helicopter was waiting to take him away. If he could just get outside and away from Spiderman, he knew he had nothing to worry about. He already had the ransom and now had in his possession the only known cure for the virus that that inept superhero had managed to release before the bomb could be properly detonated.
But he had the anti-virus, and that was all that mattered. Osborn and Spiderman would be dead within minutes, while he would inject himself with it and walk away unaffected by the virus. But he would need to take the anti-virus soon. He could already feel the virus taking affect. His lungs burned as blood throbbed in his temples, making his head swim.
As another electrical surge coursed through the wiring of the Statue, the lights suddenly flickered and dimmed then sputtered dead, sending the whole area into darkness. Blind in the sudden absence of light, Kathal stumbled as his toe caught the edge of a stair sending him toppling headfirst down the steps.
Thudding against the metal steps until coming to a narrow landing of the staircase, Kathal came to a crashing halt as his body collided with the outer hull of the Statue. Stunned by his abrupt tumble, he lay on his stomach in shock as thunder continued to crack through the heavy air outside. Dragging a hand to the side of his head, he could feel the warm sticky texture of blood snaking along the side of his face where his head had hit the ground violently.
Struggling to stand, he was met with failure as his limbs gave out from under him before he was even able to hoist himself to his knees. The air was beginning to become harder to breath. Pain laced through Kathal's whole body as he vainly gasped for air.
'The virus. It's the virus. But it's working faster then what Osborn said it would,' Kathal thought in panic as he felt his body rapidly deteriorating around him, 'We must have taken in a an almost instantaneously lethal dose when it leaked out into the room. I have to take the anti-virus or I won't live to make it to the helicopter."
Groping his hand along the floor, a wave of dread crashed through him as he realized he had dropped the small case he had been carrying when he had fallen. Swiping both arms in large semi-circle sweeps beside his fallen body in desperation to find in the pitch black the case containing the antidote, he was sighed in relief when his right hand bumped into a hard, hallow object.
Hurriedly clawing the case towards him, Kathal grasped at the latch holding the two halves together just below the handle. In the delirium of the virus, Kathal's eyes didn't seem to want to focus as his fingers clumsily pried at the latch. Sweat poured down his face as he struggled to breath the stuffy air inside the Statue's body. Finally the dull click of the lock releasing it hold on the case sounded.
Reaching his hand deep inside the case, he greedily clasped one of the only contents of the casing, a small glass vial, which he pulled from its snug pocket set into the custom-padded lining. Cradling the vial as if it were a precious jewel liable to break from the slightest jar, Kathal reached back into the case with his other hand through the darkness and groped for one of the syringes housed along with the bottle of anti-virus.
Finding one, he bit on the tough capping of the hypodermic between his teeth, retching the syringe out of its protective casing and exposed the sharp and slender needle inside. Fumbling in the dark, Kathal plunged the sharp tip into the soft circular neck of the vial. Tipping the bottle onto its side with a slosh as its contents shifted he pulled back on the plunger, filling the syringe half full.
Extracting the needle from the vial, Kathal positioned the syringe's tip just above the soft under-skin of his forearm. Not wasting time to roll the sleeve of his shirt up, he quickly jabbed the needle deep into his arm with a stifled hiss of pain from the sharp pinch. Ramming the plunger to the hilt of the syringe in a fluid movement, Kathal swiped the needle back from out of his skin and threw it to the side as he felt the last of the anti-virus enter his body.
Laying still, he waited in anticipation for the anti-virus to kick in as his head buzzed with dizziness and his heart thundered against his chest. 'Work. Come on. Work,' he pleaded silently to the antidote that was beginning to pump through his veins towards his heart.
Turning onto his side weakly, Kathal's eyes slowly rolled into the back of his head as he gasped for air desperately. Pain laced through his entire body to every nerve ending. 'It's not working. The anti-virus isn't working,' Kathal's thoughts screamed through his head, 'I have to get away from here. I don't want to die from this. Not after all I've done and planned.'
An oppressive weight seemed to weigh down onto his body as he tried to hoist himself up to sit. Struggling to still escape from the Statue, Kathal slumped back to the ground as a sudden explosion of pain stung through his chest and stomach.
'It should have worked. It should have,' Kathal thought as the pain slowly subsided and oblivion took him.
Spidey slowly swiveled his head back towards the bomb that lay half dissected at his knees. In each hand he held a twisted end of black wire jutting from a tube of red plastic. There had been no explosion. No sudden blast with a cloud of green gas in its wake.
Glancing at the LCD screen, the numbers '11:29' stood. Holding his breath in suspense, Spiderman stared at the screen for a long moment.
No change. The numbers stood frozen in bright red block numbering at 11:29. He had pulled the right wire. The detonation had been stopped dead in its tracks.
"We did it," Spiderman said as he heaved a deep sigh of relief to Harry who still kneeled beside him on the cold concrete floor. A great burden suddenly seemed lifted from his shoulders as he looked down upon the dismantled bomb. "Maybe I should watch more action movies from now on and take notes."
Harry didn't respond as he continued to look down upon Oscorp's gutted piece of technology. A look of deep contemplation furled his sickly features together into a knot in the middle of his face. Slowly raising his eyes from the viral explosive up to Spiderman's masked face, he asked, "What about the other five bombs? Were they disarmed too?"
Spidey's mouth opened to answer but any sound he was about to utter was immediately swallowed in his throat as he realized the situation. He had managed to disarm the New York bomb, but the others scattered in some of the largest US cities were not. Kathal had set them to detonate by a remote; probably linked to a satellite somewhere in orbit around Earth. Meaning they were still set to blow in less then ten minutes.
"What happened to the remote?" Spiderman demanded hurriedly as he turned to confront Harry, "Did that guy take it with him? We need it, the other bombs are still going to explode."
Eyes widened in fright, Harry's eyes darted about the room while trying desperately to recall what Kathal had done with the satellite remote during the confusion of the bomb being punctured and the Iranian men fleeing.
"I…I think he took it with him," the young Osborn answered uncertainly.
"Oh no…" the wall crawler muttered as he stood unsteadily on shaky feet. As he straightened, a cascade of wiring tumbled to the floor around him. Stumbling over the tangled mass, Spiderman made his way towards the staircase on the far side of the room.
"Where are you going?" Harry called weakly after the retreating superhero. Peter's old friend hadn't made a move to stand from where he had practically collapsed to his knees when Spidey had disarmed the bomb. His face looked paler and more frail then when Spiderman first saw him after patching the bomb. Harry's body shivered noticeably despite the stifling warm air in the observation room. The virus was quickly killing its creator.
"I have to get the remote, or the other five bombs are going to infect millions of people," was his answer as he reached the edge of the stairs. Looking down into the darkened abyss of the Statue's body, Spidey could detect no sound resonating up to his ears. "I just hope he didn't get very far or we're all in a lot of trouble."
Spraying a thick strand of webbing onto the railing of the staircase and gripping the end tightly in his hand, Spiderman vaulted over the guard rail where he was swallowed by the inky blackness of the hallow structure. Slowly lowering himself down the length of Statue, Spidey whipped his head around for signs of the fleeing Iranians.
Twenty feet down from the crown, Spidey began to feel the disorienting dizziness of sickness beginning to overwhelm his senses. Clutching his spindly lifeline tighter as he slowly lowered himself down, Spidey's wounded stomach clenched in nausea. Panting in exhaustion as waves of chills ran along his spine, the arachnid's muscles screamed in protest as gravity grabbed for his body suspended a hundred feet above certain death if he were to lose his grip and fall.
Dropping another ten feet, Spiderman felt a slight tingle from his spider-sense. Over time he had learned that the intensity of the tingle of his sixth sense did more then just warn him of danger, but also alert him to other people's presences. And this was one of those times.
Snapping out another line of web to the side of the copper structure, Spidey pulled himself onto the winding staircase that snaked its way down along the hull of the Statue. Alighting from his webbing, Spidey landed onto a flattened area of the stairs which formed a kind of platform. Thunder rumbled loudly outside through the thick metal.
Scanning the landing in the darkness, Spiderman could make out the form of a man laying sprawled out on his stomach. There was no other tingle from his spider-sense, telling him that the man was probably unconscious or dead. Coming quickly up along side of the body, the wall crawler gently turned the man onto his back and touched his two forefingers to the man's throat to feel for a pulse. There was one, but very weak.
With his heightened vision, thanks to his spider-powers, Spiderman recognized the man through the murky blackness of the Statue as being the Iranian leader that had tried to escape just after his cronies had. From his looks, the man probably didn't have much time. His face looked just as bad as Harry's had.
"Looks like you didn't get very far, did you?" Spiderman said as he threw open the man's trench coat. Just as Spidey had hoped, there stuck between Kathal's belt and the waist of his pants was the satellite remote. Grabbing the device, Spidey was about ready to turn and begin the long journey back up to the observation room when he noticed a slender, pencil like object laying not far from Kathal's body. Stooping down to examine the object, Spiderman saw that it was a syringe.
'That's strange. Why would he have a needle in a place like this?' he thought, puzzled. Then he remembered Kathal hurriedly searching through the contents of the table back up in the room. He also remembered the man fleeing with something in his hands; a small silver case of some kind. Could he have taken the anti-virus that he and Harry had been talking about?
Glancing about the landing quickly, Spidey spotted the silver case laying half open to the side of Kathal. Hopping over the unconscious body, Spiderman hastened towards the case. Throwing the case open, he frowned deeply as he saw there was nothing inside it except three other syringes fitted into the padded lining. An empty groove sat at the end of the line. Above the remaining needles, a deep pit lay in the outline of a vial.
Spidey glanced about the platform as he shoved the case away from him in disgust. Where had Kathal put it? If he did have the anti-virus, there might be a chance that Harry and himself could live to see another day. But where was it…
Desperation of finding a possible cure to the deadly virus that was steadily killing him and his best friend made Spiderman leap back toward the inert body nearby. Taking a sweeping glance around the general vicinity, Spidey saw nothing that resembled the shape of the vial that was molded into the black foam lining of the anti-virus' protective casing.
Stooping beside Kathal's body again, Spidey noticed that the man's hand seemed to be clenched around something. Prying the object from the man's weak grip, Spidey heard the clatter of thick glass against the metal staircase beneath him as the thing dropped to the ground. In the darkness, Spiderman saw that it was a small vial half filled with a clear liquid.
Feeling his heart leap into his throat, Spiderman carefully picked the vial up into the palm of his hand. Cradling the bottle, he reached to his side and plucked two of the remaining syringes from the opened case. Tucking his precious cargo into his costume, Spiderman gave one last look over his shoulder to Kathal's still form. He felt a twinge of guilt for leaving the sickly man unconscious and alone, but he knew Kathal had already taken the anti-virus and would be fine. But right then he needed to try to stop the detonation of the other bombs that were still set to explode in less then ten minutes.
'There still may be a chance to get out of this alive,' he thought hopefully as he sluggishly sprung to the metal hull of the structure and began to crawl up the face of the wall. It took every ounce of his willpower to keep moving his limbs in rhythm as he hoisted himself slowly back up towards the crown of the Statue.
As the muted gray light above him grew, the wall crawler knew his energy wasn't going to hold him much longer. Every muscle in his body ached painfully as he finally heaved himself over the railing of the stairs and landed in a quivering heap on the observation deck's floor. Gasping for breath, Spiderman pulled the satellite remote from his costume.
There were a multitude of buttons littered across the face of the remote. On the screen, the numbers quickly ticked away from '5:47.' Five minutes. That's all he had left.
Spiderman felt his frustration mounting as he helplessly scanned the device. No where on the schematics had there been anything mentioning a remote and how it linked all the bombs together in a sort of network.
White spots blotted his vision as he struggled to focus on the remote in his hand. Compelled by something beyond his understanding, Spidey forced himself weakly back to his feet and stumbled to the center of the room where Harry Osborn still sat on the ground near the shelled viral bomb. His back leaned heavily onto the metal casing of the device, oblivious from the sickness of the virus to have noticed the web swinger's return. Spiderman could see that the young CEO was close to passing out by the dazed look of pain etching into his face and the shallow rise and fall of his chest.
"Osborn, how do I work this thing?" Spiderman demanded as he dropped to the floor beside his old friend and gently shook Harry's shoulder to rouse the boy from his stupor.
Blinking his eyes slowly as though he was straining to remember who the brightly garbed superhero before him was and why he was asking him about satellite remotes, Harry's mouth worked in slow movements that produced no audible sounds.
"Come on, Harry. Work with me here," Spiderman coaxed pleadingly as he shook his friend's shoulder with a little more effort, "You have to tell me what I have to do to disarm these things. If you don't help me, millions of people are going to die."
The desperation in Spiderman's voice seemed to have the desired effects as Harry finally focused his bloodshot eyes onto the wall crawler's face. Giving a weak cough that shuddered his entire body, Harry crocked out softly between raspy gasps for air, "There's…a code."
"Harry, what's the code. You have to tell me it," Spidey said, desperate. The virus was beginning to take its toll on the wall crawler despite his super human stamina and strength. In a few minutes he knew he was going to pass out. He needed to hurry.
"There are…five digits," the dieing man sputtered, spots of blood speckling his pale lips. Spidey looked on horrified as his old friend continued on barely above a whisper, "They're…1...8...1..." Harry's voice began to taper off as his eyelids slowly slid down.
"Harry, come on. Don't die on me. What're the last two numbers?" Spidey cried as he violently shook the young man in attempt to keep him awake. Less then three minutes left on the timer now.
"…7..." came a low murmur from between the young Osborn's partially opened mouth. Spiderman could barely make out the number as he strained his ears over the loud cracks of thunder and rain that showered against the Statue of Liberty's green hull.
"The last number, Harry. What's the last number?" the arachnid begged as he pulled the limp form to him and held Harry's head up weakly in his arms.
"…Fh…Fh…" was the only sound the came from Harry's mouth as he struggled vainly to pronounce the last digit of the deactivation code. But as Spiderman leaned over the body in his arms and lowered his ear close to his friends mouth, he felt Harry's strength finally give out as the boy drooped in his grasp.
"Five? Four? Harry, what is it?" Spidey cried desperately, rattling the body to bring the boy back. In a way, he knew he was not going to get an answer from his old friend. As he lowered the limp form to rest on the cold cement floor, the web swinger saw Harry's chest still raising and falling, but just barely. His eyes lay tightly closed in pain. A thin trail of watery blood snaked along the creases of the boy's mouth.
Looking back to the remote in his hand, Spiderman punched in the first four digits of the code. His finger paused in mid air, hovering between the fourth and fifth button on the numbered pad. He really didn't know if he had actually heard what he thought was Harry's final attempts of telling the last number or not.
The pounding in his head made Spiderman feel as though somebody was playing volleyball with his brain. The room swayed and spun around him in a flurry of motion. There were less then two minutes now. It was now or never.
"Inney Meaney Minny Mo," he mumbled as he finally brought his pointed finger down onto the five key. Pressing the enter key hurriedly, the battered superhero waited in suspense as the screen was filled by the digitized word 'processing' in bright red swatches.
Then, as all hope of succeeding dwindled in the wall crawler's heart, the words 'mission aborted' scrolled across the screen of the satellite remote. As he read and reread the words over and over again to make sure he wasn't imagining it, Spiderman almost laughed out loud in triumph.
"We did it. We did it," he repeated in subdued happiness. As the adrenalin of the moment slowly faded, Spidey felt the searing pain of his mortal body breaking through the buzz of victory. Clenching his middle with both arms, the web swinger tried vainly to suppress the pain of the virus that was still eating away at his body and the throbbing of his bullet wounds which a couple of had been ripped open again in the fight.
'The anti-virus,' he thought in hope as he plunged a hand into his costume and pulled out the small vial of liquid and the two syringes he had grabbed from the unconscious terrorist leader. In his hurry to disarm the bomb, he had almost forgotten about the antidote.
Focusing his little remaining energy on the task at hand, Spiderman filled the two syringes half full. He didn't know how much he really needed to take, but it didn't matter. Take too much and he might poison himself with the antidote that was meant to save him. But if he took none, then he would be dead. Simple as that. In a way, it was kind of a lose-lose situation.
Bending over his still breathing friend who lay on the brink of death beside him on the ground, Spidey gently pushed the sharp needle into Harry's shoulder and emptied the syringe into his body. "Let's just hope his works…" he muttered as he pulled the needle from the young Osborn's arm.
Poising the last needle over his own up turned arm, Spiderman paused. He hated needles with a passion. He could duke it out with the nastiest super-villains this side of the universe and be beaten to within an inch of his life without even flinching, but needles he hated. He felt a little stupid for his irrational fear, he could remember as a child having to be soothed by his Aunt May before any doctor could get anywhere near him with the sharp object.
Sucking in a deep breath of air meant to sooth his shaking hand, Spiderman quickly jabbed the point into his flesh and quickly slammed the plunger down until the last of the clear liquid vanished into his body. Throwing the offending medical instrument away from him with the last of his strength, Spidey collapsed to the floor on his side, too weak to keep upright any longer.
The anti-virus burned in his veins like liquid fire as he felt it pump up inside his arm and into his body. Instead of lessening the misery of the effects of the virus, the antidote seemed to intensify it.
"Oh, God…" Spidey whimpered in pain, "I must have taken it too late." Shutting his eyes tightly against the agony, the wall crawler's jaw clenched shut to stifle the scream that threatened to rip itself from his throat.
Slowly. Ever so painfully slow, the searing torture tapered away, leaving Spiderman dazed and shivering in shock. As blackness clouded his vision in the misty blanket of on-coming unconsciousness, his body suddenly felt light.
'Is this what it's like to die?' he wondered as he felt himself slipping gently away into the darkness. It felt so peaceful and surreal.
Overhead the distant rumble of thunder vibrated through the humid air. The storm seemed to be lifting as the pounding of the rain lessened its attack on the city of New York outside the copper structure. On the other side of the bay of windows, the clouds were beginning to breakup into dark gray patches against the deep purple evening sky.
Sinking deeper into the shrouding darkness, Spiderman saw the memories of his past flickering like a faded old movie before his mind's eye. Images of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May playing with him as a young child flashed in his head with warm tenderness radiating from them. One of the last things he saw before he became lost to the world, was the pleasant smile of his red haired angel, Mary Jane.
'I'm sorry, MJ. I guess I didn't keep my promise after all,' he thought in passing regret as the last few drops of falling water plinked in dull rounds against the metal hull around him, 'I'm sorry…I love you…' With those as his final words, Spiderman let the painless void take him.
Golden morning sunlight poured through the windows of the small apartment, bathing everything in the room in a brilliant cascade of radiance. The sky stretched overhead like an endless silk sheet of cobalt blue outside. A soft warmth permeated every corner of place.
Basking in the warm sunlight, Mary Jane sat contently on the plush couch of Peter's apartment with its owner wrapped protectively in the young woman's hugging embrace. Nestled against her, Peter Parker slouched sleepily in her arms, enjoying the sweet scent of her hair that wafted up to his nose from where her head rested on his chest over his heart.
Listening to the steady beating of his heart beneath her ear, MJ sighed as she considered just how close she had come to losing him forever. She was careful to avoid the still heavily bandaged middle of his stomach. Between the early morning news and the first hand account she had received from Peter before he had fallen into a deep sleep of exhaustion on the couch when he had miraculously returned several hours ago, the young model had slowly realized just how lucky she had been.
Before clocking out like a light, Peter had recounted his misadventure to MJ who listened intensely as she fussed over him. Peter had told her of waking up to find that he was not standing in front of the golden gates of heaven, but rather alive and still in the Statue's observation room. Harry and the terrorist leader had still been unconscious when he had awaken and placed a phone call using the young Osborn's cell phone. Afterwards he had promptly fallen unconscious again in a daze, still weak from the anti-virus' effects and his fight, to later awake to find the place crawling with FBI and CDC agents. From there he had been airlifted along with Kathal and Harry to a hospital.
He still looked sick and would probably take a few more day to get totally back on his feet even with his spider-powers speeding the healing process. Peter's bullet wounds, although having several of them reopened during his crime fighting escapade, were already healing and within two weeks he would probably be good as new and back out in his spider costume protecting the city.
From above her she could feel Peter stirring to life once again. The last few hours he had been fading in and out of unconsciousness, slowly recovering from the past two days' ordeal.
Lifting her head off his chest to look in his face she smiled sweetly at him, "Morning again, Tiger. That's the third time in the past four hours. At this rate you may get an eight hour sleep by dinner time."
Returning MJ's radiant smile, Peter answered sleepily, "I think I'm just too tired to sleep right now. After I get a couple more hours under my belt then I'll get some sleep. Then after that, I may take a thirty hour nap."
As he spoke, he silently marveled in his half-coherent state at the flaming red hair of the woman that held him captive in her arms, the copper tresses seeming to blaze and flicker its own light from the flood of sunlight streaming through the windows on the side of the room.
Placing her head back onto its resting place on Peter's shoulder, MJ and the young photographer turned their attention to the TV set that quietly hummed across the room. A news reporter talked excitedly on the screen, a small square of video playing over his shoulder showing overhead shots of Liberty Island swarmed with police, FBI, and CDC officials. Reaching over to the TV remote placed on the edge of the couch, Peter turned the volume up several notches.
"As you can see by the WPXI helicopter shots of Liberty Island, the whole New York area has been flooded by government officials, testing for the deadly virus that had escaped its containment compartment last night during a daring fight between New York's resident superhero, Spiderman, and the terrorists responsible for holding the United States ransom for two days."
"Late last night, an urgent cell phone call was received by Spiderman alerting FBI and the CDC to the viral bomb that had been discovered in the Statue of Liberty's observation room located in the crown of the copper landmark set out in the upper New York bay. Officials were on the scene shortly after the call was received to quarantine the infected area."
"There, two men were arrested and taken into custody for suspicion of being involved in the terrorist threats against the country. One has already been identified as Harry Osborn, CEO of Oscorp Industries. The other man is yet to be identified but was reported to be of middle eastern decent. Several other men were found dead, victims of the virus that had been accidentally released during the battle between Spiderman and the terrorists."
"FBI agents were startled to find the wall crawler alive, who had been shot just two days prior to last night's startling turn of events saving the lives of Donald Collins and J. Jonah Jameson, despite rumors of his death in the St. John Hospital assassination attempt on his life the other day. The infected superhero was taken immediately after being found, by a specialized disease control medical team to nearby Manhattan Central Hospital via helicopter as were the other survivors found in the Statue for treatment for their exposure to the deadly virus."
"All survivors were run through multiple tests by members of the Center for Disease Control for signs of the virus, but were found clean. FBI and CDC agents were reluctant to give a full explanation at the time, but there have been reports that a possible anti-virus was found in the Statue. Details are sketchy at the moment, but officials believe that the possible anti-virus was administered to the three men, allowing them to survivor the ordeal."
"After receiving treatment for his exposure to the virus, Spiderman was treated for the bullet wounds he had received the previous night and for other injuries. Doctors are astounded by the superhero as to how he had managed to subdue the terrorists in the condition he was in. Extra Police and FBI protection was set up through the hospital to look over the superhero from another possible attack, allowing only trained medical staff assigned to care for Spiderman in to see him ."
"Unfortunately, the country's heroic wall crawler disappeared during the later part of the night from under the nose of the hospital's staff and protective care. Various reports were given by different hospital staff members and patients of seeing the blue and red clothed superhero web-swinging away from the hospital towards upper Manhattan."
"The other six bombs set to detonate in the other cities as targets for the attacks were found this morning by FBI and were taken to secured viral facilities of the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia. This morning in a national press conference, President Bush issued a formal address of thanks and praise to New York's Spiderman for his actions to protect the country from biological terrorism…"
Hugging Peter tighter in her circling embrace, MJ smiled up at him. On his face, a content grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. Mary Jane knew it was his humble nature that kept the beaming smile that threatened to explode on his face in check.
Craning her neck up, she placed a soft kiss on his cheek. "You did good, kid," she said with pride for her superhero boyfriend. Saying nothing, a look of sorrow passed over Peter's brow-beaten features.
"What is it?" MJ asked in a whispered tone of confusion.
Looking out the windows on the far side of the room to the bright sunny morning, Peter sat silent as though lost in thought before finally answering, "It's just that I can't help feel guilty about Harry. He was so angry at the world for his father's death, that in a way I caused, he was willing to kill millions of innocent people."
"Peter, it wasn't your fault that Harry did this," MJ said gently, seeing the look of guilt on his face, "He…I don't know…He just wasn't right in the head. Nothing you could have done could have stopped him from doing this."
"But if I had only been a better friend, he maybe wouldn't have felt the need to do this. He may have had someone to talk to, someone who could have helped him when he needed help the most," the boy responded regretfully.
Mary Jane sat silent, knowing it was going to take a long time before she was going to be able to convince Peter of his inability to have avoided the recent fiasco from ever happening. Ever since becoming Spiderman, he had come to feel responsible for every terrible thing that ever happened.
Thinking silently to herself, MJ thought of something that might help Peter move on, "Well, just because you haven't talked to Harry for a long time doesn't mean you never can again. I think Harry may need you more now as a friend then ever before. I think he'll need a real friend while he's in jail."
A small smile creeped onto the Peter's face at MJ's suggestion. She was right, as usual. There was still time to mend their friend only now between the bars of Rycker Island Penitentiary. Harry was probably going to be put through intensive therapy sessions before he would be released, but Peter already knew there was some glimmer of hope for his friend. In the end, he finally realized he wasn't the cold blooded killer he thought he was and had helped Peter disarm the bombs. There was still hope for Harry, and Peter was going to be there for him to let him know it.
"What would I do without you?" he asked adoringly as he wrapped his arms around her thin body and planted a feathery kiss onto her forehead.
"I dread to think…" MJ answered teasingly. Settling into each other's embrace, the young couple sat contently, in total bliss to just be in the other's presence.
Breaking the soft silence of the room, Peter murmured gently into MJ's ears through the thick waves of her copper hair, "You know, we could stay like this for awhile. I've decided to take a few sick days that have been coming to me from the Bugle."
"Won't Jameson be a little upset of you going AWOL?" MJ asked playfully. Pondering the question, Peter smiled as he lay in the warmth of the sunlight that streamed through opened windows of his apartment.
"No, I think he has more important things on his mind right now then worrying about where I am…"
Jameson paced briskly behind his desk in the Daily Bugle newspaper office. In his hands he held the Bugle's morning's paper. On the front page in huge block lettering he read with a small snort of disgust the headline: Spiderman saves New York and US from deadly terrorist virus.
Beneath the caption were several pictures of the Statue of Liberty swarmed with government officials and another of the half gutted bomb set in the Statue's observation room. Tossing the paper onto his desk littered with stacks of documents and other miscellaneous papers, Jameson turned to look out the large window of his office overlooking the city laid out before him with a sigh.
'So you made me look like a fool again, didn't you?' Jameson thought as he stared transfixidly out onto the city that gleamed in the bright morning sunlight, 'The city loves you and even the president has named you a hero. But that's what you really are, aren't you? A true hero. You were so willing to save me and then this whole city without thinking once about yourself…"
Chewing thoughtful on the end of the cigar balanced between his lips, Jameson continued in his train of thought on the web swinger that had seemed to have become his personal antagonist, 'That's what a hero really is, someone who doesn't think twice about risking his own life for another. But that's why I will always try to bring you down. Because I'm jealous of you for being something I never can be. But all the same, thank you...'
After a moment of silent reflection, Jameson turned back from the sun streaked window as if snapping out of a trance, half disgusted for his momentary softness to look out onto the newsroom spread out on the other side of his office's wall of glass where reporters and writers ran around the areas like a swarm of buzzing bees.
Stalking over to the opened door, Jameson barked out in his trademark bellow of authority, "Ms. Brant! Get Peter Parker in here now! I want to know why he didn't have any pictures for me this morning of Spiderman and the Statue of Liberty! I have a newspaper to run here! How can anyone expect me to work if I have to wait around for some snot-nosed photographer?"
As Jameson continued his ranting, the sun slowly made its way in its circular arch over the city as it had done since the beginning of time, warming the jungle of concrete and drying away any signs of rain that had flooded the city for the past two days. Bathed in the sunny light filling the streets, the honking of horns sounded as people slowly made their ways back home, the noise of their presence becoming mingled in the air to other sounds of the repopulating city. It was going to be a beautiful New York city day…
It's finished! This is the first story I've completed and I've got to tell you, it feels pretty good! Tell me what you think because I think I have an idea for another Spidey story for the near future. See you the next time around! And thanks to all those who stuck around and read!
P.S. Come on. Even if you totally abhor reviewing, humor me in this and tell me what you think. Please?