The tallest of the guards stepped forward and made a grunting noise. His eyes were huge, his expression fierce. And even though he was half the size of Archer that didn’t seem to bother the little guy one bit. Of course he held one of the cylinders in his hand and Archer knew what was inside it.
Dash floated beside Archer, beeping and whirring like crazy. “I would suggest stepping back several feet,” his bot said.
Archer would have. Heck, he’d have jumped back a hundred feet if he could. The cylinder was now glowing. But the humming behind him was even louder and truthfully, he wasn’t sure what scared him more. The creepy crawlies waiting to explode from the cylinder, or the big old hairy spider that was probably really mad that they’d ruined his web.
The guard began to talk. He waved his arms and spoke rapidly, but there was no way that Archer could understand what he was saying. When the guard pointed the cylinder at Archer, he thought that the game was over before he’d had a chance to play.
“Hey,” he shouted, more than a little scared and not caring at all who knew it. Archer pointed to his chest and then held his hands out, palms facing up. “I’m a friend. I mean you no harm.”
The little guard didn’t move. He continued to point the cylinder at Archer and the other guards milled around him.
Just then a little head popped up among the guards. A blond head with big blue eyes and a smile for Archer that made him want to scoop her up into a hug.
She spoke for what seemed to be a long time and Archer was sure his little friend had everything in control.
That is until one of the guards from the back began to shout. He was the biggest of the lot and Dash glowed red, rising into the air, and positioning himself between Archer and the gathering crowd. Several of the ‘regular’ Pointy-ears joined the guards and all of them were looking at Dash and Archer. Some with distrust, others with wonder, some just plain curious.
Archer didn’t have a good feeling about this. Besides the hostile guards with their glowing cylinders, the hum from behind him was almost deafening. He watched helplessly as the guards and his friends argued. As the cylinders continued to glow. As the crowd doubled and then tripled, all eyes on him.
He watched until he thought he was going to scream and just when he couldn’t take it anymore, the humming stopped. The guards stopped yelling. The crowd stopped pushing forward. Even Pointy-ears fell silent.
Every single one of them looked toward Archer and Dash. For one tiny moment he felt as if things were okay. They’d figured out that he wasn’t the bad guy.
But then one of the guards pointed toward a spot behind Archer and the hairs on the back of Archer’s head stood on end. Sweat beaded along his forehead and Archer glanced up at Dash. His bot slowly turned in mid-air, low beeps emanating from within.
“What is it?” Archer whispered. Though really, did he want to know the answer?
Archer squeezed his eyes shut.
“It’s approximately twenty feet in height, with an estimated weight of three hundred pounds.” Archer gulped. “How….” He swallowed again and had to work hard to clear his throat. “Um, how many legs?” he managed to squeak out.
“There are sixteen visible, but my scan indicates that there are ten more that are retractable.”
“Affirmative,” Dash replied. “Meaning—“
“I know what retractable means,” Archer said in a rush.
Slowly Archer turned around but he wasn’t prepared for the animal that regarded him in silence.
It was big. Gigantic. It was the mother of all spiders, on this planet and every planet ever. Large beady eyes that glowed red gazed down at him, while the long legs moved back and forth. Slowly. Methodically. Just like his gramps when he was reading and drumming his fingers along the table. And those legs. Wow. They were covered with spikes that looked razor sharp and the retractable ones kept poking out from the spider’s massive body before disappearing again. It was like the spider was teasing Archer.
“Is there any way to escape?” Archer whispered to Dash.
“Negative,” his bot replied.
“Great,” Archer muttered.
The spider’s belly began to glow red and the mist that fell from its flared nostrils came out in big puffs.
Archer reached for his electron, unsure, scared but determined.
A blast of hot air hit him in the face and Archer whipped his head back, scrambling a bit as the spider began to move forward.
The retractable legs were no longer hidden and now that the spider was closer Archer spied what had to be the creature’s mouth. It was full of razor sharp teeth. (Why did they always have razor sharp teeth?)
“Dash, you need to make it out of here. You need to get to Bruce and Del. You need to make sure Del’s father is rescued.”
“Archibald, my directive is to keep you safe.”
“I will keep you safe.” The voice was soft and Archer watched, horrified as his little Pointy-ears walked past him. He reached out and tried to grab her but she was fast and was halfway to the creature.
Archer tried to run forward Dash kept zipping in front of him, preventing him from doing so.
The spider reared up onto its multitude of legs and Archer couldn’t take it anymore. He managed to duck underneath Dash and ran toward his friend. He yanked on her arm but he slipped from his grasp, soft gentle noises falling from her lips.
“Hey, you need to run away…”
But Archer’s words were lost as the giant creature lowered its legs as well as it’s massive head to the ground.
Archer watched in stunned silence as his little Pointy-ears stepped forward and placed her hands on one of the legs, fingers carefully running over the sharp spikes.
He touched the spider. He felt it shudder when he did so. He gazed up into eyes that while, still glowing red, regarded him with an intelligence that told Archer this was no ordinary creature.
He couldn’t help but smile. Archibald McTavish the 4th had never felt anything quite so cool in all of his life.