SHADOW MAN--CH3: THE MAIN DISH--3/15
- Chapter 3-The Main Dish
With a resigned sigh Logan opened his eyes and turned his head to
look up at Magneto. "Yeah, bed's nice and soft. You really know how
to treat a guest."
He had heard the other come in the lab and identified the man's
particular cold, dirty-chimney scent under the smell of oil and hot
metal as he approached the table, but Logan hadn't seen any reason to
acknowledge his presence. Maybe if he just kept silent and still the
guy would go away. After all, it worked for possums. Why not
Magneto's lips twitched. "I was certain you'd feel at home here," he
thrust back. "Now this is what we're going to do." And he launched
into a detailed description of body parts, incisions, ripping out
certain sections of the adamantium, grafting on the revised segments,
replacing the bulkier joint hinges with the newer models, etc., etc.
Through it all Logan kept his eyes fixed on the man even as he choked
back the scream rising in his throat and the surge of sickness in his
gut. The guy was a raving lunatic! He seemed to genuinely believe
that Logan would be fascinated knowing every gruesome detail of just
how he was going to be broken apart and put back together like some
"So you see," Magneto concluded, "when we're finished you'll be able
to move much faster."
"Just let me loose and see how fast I move, you bastard!"
Magneto drew back, momentarily startled. The enthusiasm drained from
his face and he regarded Logan with an expression usually reserved
for when one finds something particularly nasty under a rock.
"Small minded people." He shook his head in disgust. "No vision. No
sense of the future, of progress. I'm wasting time explaining my
goals to one such as you. We'll continue, then, without further
He started to leave, turned back. His smile was like something carved
in a Jack O' Lantern, one of the scary ones. "This may interest you.
In addition to the program I just outlined, we will also be taking
samples of your bone marrow." He waited for a response. Logan gave
him the blank, impassive stare.
"Humph. Since you're obviously so curious, I'll tell you. Not to get
too technical, the reason is this: one adamantium-laced combatant is
good. Two are better."
Logan frowned, blinked. Pleased at having broken through, Magneto
nodded towards the lab's door where the little creep was wheeling in
a table identical to Logan's.
"The difficulty, of course," Magneto was explaining, "is that the
procedure I just described kills normal people. It's only your gift
of nearly instantaneous regeneration that makes these enhancements
feasible. I came here originally to learn if the scientists had done
any research in that field. Naturally, they had, a Dr. Cornilius, in
particular. And he kept most meticulous records, I am gratified to
say. I was following his work, conducting experiments on animals my
assistant brought in, when you appeared."
He unconsciously rubbed his hands together like a man preparing to
carve a gigantic Thanksgiving turkey. Logan's innards turned to ice
and he wanted to shut his eyes. Instead, he clenched his jaw and
stared at the man's forehead, trying to wipe out the picture of
himself as the main dish.
"Now my work will go much faster," Magneto said. "With your bone
marrow I can analyze the DNA and see which genes have mutated to
allow such rapid healing. I will then attempt to duplicate the
mutation and induce it to flourish first in our lab animals, then in
a human subject. If the experiment is a success, we can begin to
reinforce her skeleton with adamantium as well."
"Her?" The question was surprised out of him. Logan twisted his head
awkwardly in order to see the shrouded form on the far table.
"A runaway." Magneto dismissed his second 'volunteer' with a wave of
hand. "Young people these days are spoiled. They don't appreciate
their parents' sacrifices."
He headed for the door, called over his shoulder as he turned out the
lights. "As for you, get some sleep. There are only a few hours left
of the night. We begin at dawn."
In the faint ambiance coming in from the hallway, Logan peered at the
still figure. A runaway. A picture in a post office. The image of
Rogue came to him.
"Hey . . . " He caught himself whispering and scowled. What the hell!
They were going to cut him up tomorrow. Didn't much matter if they
laid into him tonight.
"Hey! Kid!" His shout bounced back from the tiled walls. "You okay,
There was no response. Probably drugged, he decided. He gave it up
and tried to find a soft spot on the steel table. Just as well. After
all, what could he have said? Don't worry? I'll take care of you?
Have a nice day?
It must have been the long hours on the motorbike that fatigued him
or the dispirited exhaustion that only fear can bestow, for after a
while Logan did sleep. And despite what awaited him in the morning,
despite the fetters and the chill metal against his skin and the
implements of pain and blood and fire all around him, he didn't have
Instead, a tuneless thread of song running through his head, he
dreamed he was a wolverine kit, warm and snug in the den surrounded
by his littermates, watched over by the fierce female that was his
mother. He smiled in his sleep. He was home.
When the sunlight hit Logan's eyelids he yawned and tried to roll
over, found he couldn't. Found also, when he squinted up, that it
wasn't the sun but a fluorescent lamp hanging over him and that his
wrists and ankles were pinioned. Yesterday dumped on him like a load
of wet concrete and he lay there flattened by Magneto's fanaticism
and the knowledge of what was going to be done to him today, and
tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow . . .
But Logan had drifted through the past fifteen years scraping along
from hour to hour. If he knew in the morning where he was going to
spend the night it was a rarity. So now he mentally stuffed all those
unpleasant near-and-distant future events into the Postponed file and
concentrated on his most pressing need at the moment. Damn, what he
wouldn't give for a cigar!
Craning his head he looked around the lab and saw he was alone except
for the little creep. "Hey, squatty body! Yeah, I'm talking to you!
Whaddaya got to smoke around here?"
The creep looked up, his eyes huge and goggling behind his thick
glasses. "Thmoke?" he lisped. It came out a twangy, nasal honk like a
goose with a cold.
"You know, you light it, it smokes! Gimme something and make it
A gurgley hic-hic-hic of what might pass as laughter burbled out of
the creep's no-neck body. "You want to thmoke? Yeah, okay." Turning
to the workbench he fiddled with something a moment and came over to
"Thmoking ith bad for you, ithn't it?" he honked, and the next
instant he ran a lighted acetylene torch down the length of Logan's
Logan roared and thrashed. He smelled the stink of his own flesh
burning and saw the smoke curling up in pretty little spirals, then
the raw wounds closed and the red, blistered skin slowly faded to its
normal hue. The arm felt and looked the same as it had less than a
minute ago except there was a long, finger-wide track where no hair
grew. Like a firebreak in a forest, Logan thought a little
hysterically and choked back a giggle. His breathing was still ragged
and his muscles continued to jump and twitch from the adrenaline
surge. Blinking the sweat out of his eyes he glared at the goggles
peering down at him.
"Wha What the hell did you do that for, you sadistic little shrimp!"
"I thaid thmoking wath bad for you, didn't I? Didn't I?" the creep
repeated, waving the hissing torch suggestively.
"Yeah. Yeah, you did. 'Thmoking's' bad for me. Think I'll quit."
The creep smirked, revealing a perfectly matched set of pearl-gray
baby teeth. A smirk like that rates eleven out of ten, Logan judged,
willing to give credit where it was due.
"Next time, be careful who you order around," came the honk. "And my
name'th not thrimp. Ith Toad."
"Tooooaaaad!" Logan snarled, contorting his lips around the name,
endeavoring to make it sound as repulsive as its owner looked,
Logan scrutinized the wizen, warty features hovering over him. Surely
there couldn't be two such godawful ugly bastards by the name of
Toad. "I thought Storm killed you," he protested.
The thin lips stretched and stretched in a too-wide grin. "And I
thought I killed her!"
The swinging lab door fwap-fwaped and Magneto strode cheerily into
the room pulling on a pair of rubber gloves. "So how are we feeling
this fine morning?"
He halted suddenly, one glove half on, sniffed, and with a frown
turned on his heel, giving the place a three-sixty. "Has someone been
Logan couldn't help himself. "Yeah, me!" And the repressed giggle