Donna M. Goad
Steve felt the impact his body made as he hit the dirt hard knocking the breath out of him . As he lay there dazed for a few minutes; the giant scientist who had been chasing him though the forest for an eternity was upon him. Steve knew he had to lead the scientist away from the Sprindrift camp. The dense under growth had caught at his face leaving bloody trails across his handsome appearance. Steve saw the giant reaching down towards him as he tried to will his body back towards the roots of a giant tree. The scientist claimed his prize as he dropped Steve into the collection jar. Steve's body was racked with pain as he hit the bottom of the container. The scientist held the jar up so that he could look at his prize.
Steve pulled himself up to his knees and pounded on the side of the jar, "Let me out of here!" his fists hit the side of the jar.
"Little man, you are important to my research. The fun for you has only just begun." With that he tucked the jar into the bag that hung from his shoulder. Steve could only wait and wonder what plans the madman had planed for him.
Carefully he took out his radio, "Spindrift? Sprindrift, do you read me?" Steve was rewarded by static; his radio had been damaged during his capture.
Back at the lab, the scientist opened a large cage and dropped Steve inside. He lay on the soft bedding which covered the bottom of the structure. There was a blanket of sorts in the corner of the cage, Steve pulled himself to a sitting position up by using the wire side wall, he reached for the blanket and covered his shoulders it was cold in the lab. A deep forbidding crept over Steve as he lay in wait for what was to come. He felt his sore rib cage and knew he had a few broken bones, just what he needed. It was only a matter of time before the scientist returned for Steve and commented whatever tortures he had planned for him. For now sleep claimed him as he lay on the bedding dreaming of escape and of what was happening back at their campsite.
When Steve hadn't returned from his hunting expedition by nightfall, Mark and Dan went looking for him. What they found was very little, the signs of a struggle and Steve's watch. Barry ran up to the men as they returned to camp, "Didn't you find Captain Burton?"
"No Barry. But don't worry we'll start looking again in the morning." Mark looked down at the boy and his sad face, "Why don't you hold on to this for Steve until he gets back." Mark held out the watch to Barry.
"Gee, Mr. Wilson do you think it would be OK if I did?"
"I'm sure that's what Captain Burton would want Barry." Mark rubbed Barry's hair as the boy turned to walk over to his bed and chipper.
Dan dropped his ax against the side of the ship and sat down on the stairs. Mark sat down by the fire staring into the flames searching for an answer; he kicked a piece of wood into the flames sending sparks into the night air.
Valerie handed him a cup of coffee; "Here you look like you could use this."
Mark took the cup as he looked up into her soft warm eyes, "Thanks," he took a drink," I just wish we could find him."
Valerie put her hand on his shoulder, "You'll find him in the morning Mark, Steve is a survivor."
"I got a feeling he's been captured, but by who I just don't know. Betty is trying to get him on the radio, there was something earlier but it was over to quick to get a fix on the position. He's never been out over night without letting someone know where he was."
Mark gulped down the coffee and threw the metal cup across the clearing; it clattered against the rocks.
"That make you feel better?" Valerie wrapped her arms around him.
Mark reached up and touched her arm, "Yea, I guess I did."
She let him go but before she could turn away, he grabbed her arm and pulled her into a waiting embrace. Mark kissed Valerie with a soft gentleness, as he let her go he said, "Thanks."
"No problem Mr. Wilson any time. Now go get some rest."
Mark walked over to his bunk and pulled the blanket back, before he could lie down Fitzhugh entered the area.
"Mr. Wilson I demand to know what we are going to do without a pilot! With Captain Burton dead ...."
Mark jumped up,"Fitzhugh ! Captain Burton is not DEAD. He may be captured but he's not dead!" Mark had backed Fitzhugh against a rock outcropping.
Dan came out of the ship to see the beginnings of a fight. Running over he forced his way between the two men, "BACK OFF BOTH OF YOU!" Fitzhugh threw his hands up to protect his face and backed out of the shelter.
Mark dropped back on the bunk; "I really wanted to punch his lights out."
"Yea I know. Don't let that windbag get to you. We'll find Steve."
Mark lay back on the bunk, his arms across his eyes," I can't help but think we have missed something."
"We'll start again in the morning and this time we'll find Steve. " Dan went over and lay on his bunk. Neither of the men slept very much that night.
The next day the scientist opened the cage and poked at Steve with a pencil, Steve was not quick to awaken; he opened his eyes and tried to set up. His ribs were giving him hell. Using the side of the cage to pull himself to his feet. The scientist reached in to grab Steve as he moved towards the back of the cage.
The scientist set Steve down on the lab table, "I am Dr. Zorlbert earth creature."
Steve pulled himself up to his full height and tried his best command voice," What do you want with me?"
Dr. Zorlbert smile down at the little imposing figure, "I want to understand why you exist, are you like us?
Steve was in a lot of pain but he couldn't let this madman know what he had done,"We're HUMAN, just like you!" Steve fought the waves of nausea that assaulted his body. "How can you do this to another human being!"
Dr. Zorlbert ignored Steve's words and started removing Steve's clothes. Steve fought as best he could but he was no match for the giant. Stripped down to his briefs, Steve shivered in the cold. The doctor picked him up and suspended him between two poles. Steve's arms were pulled above his head with his wrists barring the full weight of his body.
Dr. Zorlbert examined his well-muscled body, when he ran his fingertip down Steve's rib cage; the pain from the broken ribs was to for Steve to stand much a welcome darkness settled over his abused body.
Dr. Zorlbert tried to bring Steve around without any success but continued to examine him.
Using a scalpel he cut into Steve's chest. The blood flowed quickly from the wound and pooled on the floor as Dr. Zorlbert watch in fascination. He measured Steve's body then took him down from the poles. Wanting to keep Steve alive for a few more days, he bandaged the tiny body, then opening the door to the cage he tossed in the clothes then lay Steve on top of the straw.
Reality returned to Steve slowly, he fingered the bandages that covered his chest that were now covered with blood. He felt dizzy, in the corner was a small bucket with what appeared to be water and a tray of food. Fighting the dizziness, Steve pulled on his shirt then his pants. He crawled over to the bucket and splashed water on his face. Slowly he leaned back against the wire mesh of the cage his breathing was slow and labored. After a few minutes he reached for the food. The bread was good and there were a few bits of meat. Steve quickly ate the meal, then moved back to where the blanket lay, he carefully wrapped it around himself and lay down. Dr. Zorlbert watched at Steve and took notes. After checking the lock on the cage he turned out the lights and left the lab.
As darkness fell Mark and Dan crawled though the air vent. They had been looking for Steve now for two days; this was the last lab in the science building. He just had to be in this one. There was no report of the S.I.D capturing Steve; in fact for once the S.I.D was being very quiet.
"Mark, what if we don't find him? " Dan grabbed the climbing rope and pulled it in after them.
Mark turned to look at Dan,"Then he's dead."
They looked around the darkened room, then on a lab table Dan saw a cage. "Mark look, Steve has to be in there!" Dan stepped back to toss the safety pin climbing rope to hook the edge of the table. The men climbed to the top of the table and ran over to the cage, "Steve!Steve!" Dan called out towards the cage.
Mark reached the cage door, in the darkness he could see the red uniform in the corner."Dan, he's in here. Help me with this lock."
They preyed open the lock and pushed back the door. Mark climbed in the cage, "Dan, you stay outside and keep a look out."
"You just try to keep me out of there. You know giants can't see in the dark." Dan climbed into cage to check on his friend.
Mark carefully removed the covers from the body. His voice caught in his throat, "St-eve." He could see the sodden bandages covering Steve's chest. Quickly he put a hand to Steve's throat to check for a pulse, it was very weak but still there.
Mark touched Steve on the shoulder, "Steve, Steve can you hear me?" There was no response. Mark slapped Steve's face trying to wake him up.
Steve moaned and slowly opened his eyes; he fought to focus on Mark's face. "M-ar-k?" Steve's voice was just a whisper.
"Steve we have to get out of here, can you travel?"
The world was quickly becoming a reality for Steve; "I'll try."
Mark helped Steve to sit-up; his breathing was hard and fast. "Hard to breath, .....I'll be OK..... just give me.... a minute."
Mark put his arm under Steve's shoulder and helped him stand.
Dan grabbed Steve's jacket. At the edge of the table, "Dan you go down first then I'll lower Steve down to you."
"Sure Mark." Dan gave Steve a pat on the shoulder,"It'll be OK buddy." Dan went down the rope quickly. "OK, Steve your turn. Let me wrap your jacket around the rope." Mark placed the rope around Steve as carefully as possible.
Steve looked up at Mark before he drooped over the edge," See ya at the bottom."
Dan reached up for Steve as he neared the bottom. Steve looked pale and Dan could see where fresh blood had soaked though the bandages.
"Sit down here Steve."
"No I'm OK Dan."
" Look Steve sit down before you fall down."
Steve looked into Dan's deep brown eyes and saw the concern there,"Aye, Aye Sir."
Steve sat down and waited for Mark; his world started to turn black, "D...an?" Steve reached out for the support of his friend.
Dan grabbed for Steve's hand just as he lost consciousness. Dan caught Steve by the wrist and eased his limp body back on the floor. He could see the beads of sweat forming on Steve's face. Mark dropped to the floor,"What happen?"
"I don't know, he just folded once he got down."
"Well it looks like we carry him. No time to make a stetcher, I'll get his head and shoulders you take his knees."
Gently the men picked up the fallen captain and carried him towards the door. As they slipped under the lab door the inter-office door opened and Dr. Zorlbert came into the lab.
He turned on the lights just as Mark pulled Steve under the door bottom. Dan ducked behind a table leg.
"Well let's see how my specimen is doing." Dr. Zorlbert walked over to the lab table, he could see the open cage, "What?" he shook the cage emptying out the straw. "Where did you go you little mouse ?" He got down on his hands & knees and started to search the floor.
Dan knew that he could only stay hidden no longer so he ran towards the door as Dr. Zorlbert looked away.
Mark was carrying Steve towards the air vent when he started to babble in his delirium.
Dan ran to join them, "Let's get him out of site, then you stay with him until I get help from the camp."
Mark wiped the sweat from Steve's face with his handkerchief. "There's a grove of trees down the path leading towards the city, maybe just maybe Dr. Zorlbert won't find us there."
Half-carrying, half-dragging Steve the men got him though the maze of mouse holes to the outside world. They took cover in a flowerbed just as a guard rounded the corner of the building.
Dodging search parties the men got Steve Burton to the base of a giant tree, "Here under the roots there's a hole we can hide in. Dan cover the area over with leaves after I get in there with him."
"Right Mark, I'll get Valerie & Fritzhugh along with some water and something we can use as a stetcher."
Mark pulled off his jacket and covered Steve as best he could.
Once more Steve fought the demons of his nightmare world, " N-o, get a-w-ay . We-'re hum-an just like y-ou." Steve struggled against Mark who held him close.
" Steve it's OK . I'm here.Steve it's Mark, Steve !" Mark was afraid that the search parties would hear the commotion. Steve fought to set up even as the wound in his chest reopened and his life force began to ebb once more from his body. Mark saw the fresh blood on the already sodden bandages. " Damm ! I hope Dan gets back here soon or you are going to bleed to death."
The hours slipped by, it was almost daylight when Dan returned with help. "Mark? Mark, where are you ? " Dan started removing leaves to find the two men.
Mark Wilson had dozed off sometime during the early morning hours; he had kept a hand on Steve's throat so that he could feel the weak pulse and breathing. He woke now as he heard Dan's voice. "Dan, in here !"
The leaves moved, Dan Erickson pulled aside more of the debris until he found the men. He bent down to touch Steve's face, it was cool to his touch, "No need to ask how he is. Betty & Fitshugh are waiting outside. Val stayed at the camp with Barry ."
Dan turned to get Betty, "Take a look at him, do what you can ."
Betty went to work on Steve checking his chest wound. After a few minutes she stood and wiped her hands on her skirt," I can do more for him when we get him back to camp." Fritzhugh got his first good look at Captain Burton, "My God, is he dead?"
Betty looked up at him, "No not yet but he will be soon if we don't get him back to camp now."
Dan took Betty aside, " Get started, I'll get the area cleaned up so the giants can't see we've been here."
Betty took Dan by the shoulder," Look I know that you want to know if he is going to live but right now I just can't tell."
Dan scuffed the dirt with his foot; "Steve and I've been together for along time. It just wouldn't seem the same without him."
Betty grabbed Dan by the shoulder and turned him to face her, " Dan, don't worry he's been though worse."
The somber group carried their precious cargo back to camp.
Betty cleaned the wound in Steve's chest as best she could pulling the skin together with butterfly bandages; she began to wonder if she should put in a zipper. At one time or another all most of the group had needed her care. Betty looked down at Steve, the sweat beaded on his face and arms. Taking a bowl of cool water, she wiped the sweat from his lean well-muscled body. He seemed to relax under her gentle touch.
Dan entered the passenger compartment of the Spindrift. They had placed Steve on a bed in there to protect him from the elements. Dan touched Betty on the shoulder, "Will he be OK?"
Betty looked up at Dan, tears forming in her eyes. "I don't know, he's running a high fever. " Betty broke into tears," Oh Dan, there isn't much I can do for him. He needs medicine, antibiotics from the city or he'll die."
Dan lifted her up by the shoulders and pulled her into his strong arms. " You've already done so much for this group. I'll get the drugs if that is what he needs." Dan gave her a loving hug then left to get Mark and the climbing equipment they would need.
Betty went back to Steve's side, she made a mixture of local herds that they had learned would help control the pain and offset some of the infection and placed on the wound in Steve's chest. Steve still needed the drugs flowing in his veins to cure the deep-set infection.
Within three hours the men had returned, "We were almost lunch for a gray and white tabby, I'm glad she was only a kitten." Mark said throwing down the climbing rope.
Dan walked over to a table and picked up a glass poured himself a glass of water. "Yea, but I hope what we got helps Steve."
Betty gave Steve an injection of the drug, "We'll have to wait and see." She stood up and rubbed the small of her back.
Mark looked at Betty,"Why don't you get Val to stay with him and you get some sleep." "Thanks Mark, maybe I will." Betty walked out into the clear cool air; it helped to clear her head. Valerie sat silently by Steve's bed waiting for him to come back to them
Valerie watched Steve for any sign of a return to consciousness. Several times he mumbled a few incoherent words and then sank back into oblivion.
Four days later Steve returned to the real world. His voice hung in his throat causing him to go into coughing spasms. Valerie gently lifted his head as Betty held a cup to his lips.
Steve drank the cold water clearing his throat. "Be-tt-y ? Va-ler-ie ?" he focused on the women.
"Take it easy Steve. You've been gone along time from us. I'm sure some of the other folks would like to see that you're awake." Valerie smiled down at Steve and went outside to get the rest of the group.
Each member of the Spindrift crew came into see their commander. Even Chipper gave him a lick on the hand.
"Now Steve I don' want you to over do." Betty pulled the cover up around his shoulders. Barry had stayed behind the others, "Oh Steve I was so worried about you. I just knew the giants had killed you."
Steve put a hand on Barry's arm, "It'll... take more.... then mere.... giants to keep... me down." Steve's breath was coming out in gasps.
Betty pulled an emergency oxygen mask over Steve's face," Take deep breaths. Get your breathing under control. " Steve could only nod.
Turning towards the group, "Look Steve needs his rest. Now that you have all seen that he's alive, everyone out!" Betty folded her arms across her chest and tapped her foot on the floor. Each person took a minute to say goodnight to Steve.
Steve smiled under the mask knowing that he would live another day and that the fight would go on to free his crew and friends from the land of the giants.