“Oh dear,” Itsy chortled as she lowered herself from the wall to greet her new guests. She bore herself confidently as she looked at her visitors. “Two of you have wandered directly into the spiders nest? Perhaps you were eager to join these others?” Her rear leg jostled the bundle very tenderly. She didn’t want to disturb the little ones nesting within the formerly brash boy trapped inside.
The dire situation was lost on Loki, who fumbled in his pockets for the last of his stash. “Roigh’ roigh’! Ya memba me! Ya dun mada ‘ome outa my ‘ome once!” He pulled up a grubby paw filled with a crushed brownie. The lad held it out expectantly with a vacant grin. “Oi brough a peace offerin’.
Her legs shook as she giggled, the sound sent unnatural shivers crawling up his spine begging the lad to run, but these signals crashed against his drug induced stupor. While those behind him tensed he grinned in return. “It ain’t tha firs’ toim Oi wandad inta yer ‘ome afore!”
“That is true, little theif…” She responded meaningfully as her red eyes pierced through him. He squirmed for a moment under the gaze and looked at his bundles unsure. How could she have known he stole Avariel’s Horn?
Suddenly, he slapped his head, “OI! THA’S ROIGH’! Yer always called me tha theif…”
Wright moved beside him, Loki could see spiders crawling outside of his jacket and disappearing into his coat. He wondered if they were all doing that. We must all be getting on well if they’re not biting, he reasoned naively.
“Are those in the webs still alive?!” Bookworm called out from behind them. Loki swiveled to find she was blocked by several large spiders blocking the entrance. She had Russell holding the lantern high.
“Some of them,” She confessed only too gleefully, waving her hand to show the dead were beneath their notice. “Those that deserved to live have survived.”
Bookworm’s voice took on a hurt tone as she insisted, “Is Doctor Westbridge among the living?”
Itsy bristled, her legs taking on a predatory stance. If Bookworm had been standing in front of her she would have pounced. “Of course he’s among the living. Why would I hurt my good friend?”
“Then why did you take him?”
“To protect him, of course,” She spoke like she was explaining to an errant child. “Naughty Progress is trying to have him killed.”
“Oi toldja gouys sha ain’ bad!” Loki chimed with bolstering confidence as he reached into his pocket. He dropped the brownie without realizing it, having forgotten it in his outstretched hand. He lit his last cigar in celebration while the others muttered amongst themselves.
“We heard you captured the assassin,” Wright said taking another step forward, though he looked less tense.
“Yes,” She squeed without remorse as she turned her back on them and poked the farthest sack with her leg. “He was quite eager to talk. Seven days with spiders crawling under your skin, in your nose, it seems to make the wicked ones want to confess all their wicked ways.”
Others would have considered her laughter evil, but Loki took a few steps, clanging each step as his legs wobbled strangely. He almost fell over twice as he took another deep drag on his stoggy. “Oi toldja she ain’ bad…”
Bookworm’s face was twisted, as if she was not as pleased with the news source as Loki himself. She called out again, “What did he say?”
“That he was hired by Dean Thorne to kill Dr. Westbridge.”
Loki watched as the announcement sent a ripple of surprise through Bookworm and he heard a horrific growl beside him. Wright was standing up straight and speaking through grit teeth, “Dean Thorne?”
“Yes. He claimed, in between his whimpering pleads, that everyone who works for Thorne works for Progress. This includes the man who works at the Babbage station now. What’s his name again?”
She tapped her chin playfully as Loki felt warm, his head felt like it was burning up as he snarled, “Dr. Dick…errr…oi mean Queef…err…”
“Professor Quinn?” Bookworm added from behind him. Loki nodded his head weakly, feeling flush as his head boiled thinking about that smug git back in Babbage. Take over Dr. Falcon’s station would he…
Wright turned to Book quietly, he looked like he had grown a few inches and his teeth were bared, “If what they’ve said is true, then we can no longer consider the Lovelace Institute our allies.”
“If..” Bookworm continued skeptically to the shock of Loki. How could she possibly doubt it? “I don’t suppose I can talk to the man myself?”
“No. They are all staying with me.” Itsy smiled as she poked another of her captives, from within there was a muffled sound cry of anguish. It sounded like a small boy, unconscious, but whimpering in his imprisoned nightmares. “You can determine if you trust me or not if I allow you to leave…but all of Thorne’s minions that I have taken believe it to be true.”
“We shoul’ bring Dr. Dick ‘ere.” Loki muttered loudly. He was starting to feel flushed as his breath became labored. Wright sniffed, like he could smell smoke that wasn’t coming from his rolled cigar. “Well, yer kids need fewd so we unda stand.”
Itsy turned towards him with what he assumed was a friendly smile at his attempt at camaraderie. When she inched towards him he lifted his paw to offer her a drag on the remains of his cigar. He couldn’t feel the itch that the others did of little legs crawling under his clothes or fur. He couldn’t see her intent reflected in her ruby glowing eyes. She approached him with her hairy legs raised and ready to pounce, and in his broiled mind he opened his arms as if to hug her back.