Rance felt the trap closing in on him. He waited until the cage was almost down before he rushed forward. Too late, deliberately too late. Yet with just enough effort to make it look as though he had tried to get away. No suspicion aroused.
The cage slid along the floor, and Rance was forced to walk with it. On the outside, he feigned shock and rage. Inside, he felt warm. Everything was on schedule.
He wanted to be caught, of course. It was the only way he could get close to the Fly. Four months ago, the shadowy figure had grabbed control of one of the largest criminal organizations in Chicago, seemingly out of nowhere. Bit by bit, he was taking control of the streets downtown, and had already captured the nightmares of the public.
No one had yet managed to stand against him. He seemed to have eyes and ears everywhere…flies on the wall, you might say if you were in a joking mood. Rance always was.
“Mr. Robbins,” a voice echoed from a loudspeaker. “Welcome.”
“Thank you,” Rance shouted back. “Your hospitality so far has been captivating.”
A disgusted sigh. “Oh, please, Mr. Robbins. I hate puns.”
“Too bad,” Rance muttered under his breath. “I’ve got some good ones.”
“I suppose we both know why you’re here.”
“Do we?” Rance yelled as his eyes scanned the room. Four smooth empty walls. Some boxes stacked in a corner, but not enough for a hiding place.
“I’d like to apologize for the smash-up in your office a week ago.”
“Are you going to pay the bill?” What looked like a darkened window sat in the wall above him, almost directly in front of him. The Fly would probably be there, but then the glass would surely be bulletproof.
“Well, I’d like to. And I’d like to apologize. Unfortunately, I can’t do either. You were helping the police conduct surveillance on me, after all. One has to set an example. Discourage other snoops.”
“Does one?” There must be some way out.
“Yes. And please, Mr. Robbins, stop looking for an escape route. You won’t leave here alive.”
“Plenty of people have said that before.”
“Yes, I’m aware of your reputation. The Spider, they call you. You can scale any wall, you can slip through any crack. Your tenacity is legendary.”
“Don’t forget,” Rance called out. “Once I weave my web around you, you’re paralyzed.”
A brief silence. Then: “Mr. Robbins, do you take nothing seriously?”
“Pretty much not,” Rance yelled. His eyes continued to scan. There must be a way out. There always was a way out…
“In a way, that’s a relief. I hate to see a man of your gifts die so harshly. It does ease the burden a bit to find out that you’re such a ludicrous figure.”
“You won’t think I’m so ludicrous when I get out of here!”
“Actually, Mr. Robbins, I’ll find you a great deal more so. You see, the only way out is–”
And then the floor started to break apart. Rance could hear a grinding noise from below.
“–down,” finished the voice.
Rance kept his cool. This was unexpected, of course, but he could handle unexpected. Waiting until the floor had cleared the front of the cage, he grabbed onto the bottom brace, and let his feet slip over the edge of the floor. He hung from the bottom of the cage for a brief moment, gathering his strength. Then he grasped the bars and pulled himself up. In a moment, he was standing on top of the flat cage roof.
“Very good,” the voice said. “But I’d expected as much.”
The cage started to descend and tilt. Rance looked over the edge, and saw whirling blades.
No problem. He grabbed onto the metal pole attaching the cage to the ceiling, started to climb–
–And slipped, and almost fell over the edge. The pole was greased.
“When you hit the bottom,” the voice cut in, “you’ll be liquefied by the blades. And that will be the end of Rance Robbins.”
“Wouldn’t shooting me do just as well?” Rance called out, desperately trying to find purchase on an increasingly angled surface.
“To kill you, yes. But I need my sustenance too.”
And then the light went on in the window, and Rance Robbins knew real panic for the first time in his life…as he found himself looking at a four-foot tall fly holding a microphone.
“Welcome to my parlor,” said the Fly to the Spider.
Let me know what you think of the story. If you like it, please feel free to forward the link to your friends! If it wasn’t to your taste, better luck tomorrow — a new piece of short fiction goes up every day.