SHADOW MAN--CH7: PING PONG GONE WRONG 7/15
- Chapter 7-Ping Pong Gone Wrong
Three weeks! Jerk the mattress off the bed. Kick it towards the door.
Three whole weeks He couldn't believe it! Drag the army cot opposite
the doorway. That meant, including his trip up here, he'd been gone
from the school more than a month. Set the bed upright against the
wall. What was happening to him? Was he going catatonic? Shove chair
and table over by the mattress.
Standing back, he studied the results of his labor. Table, chair and
mattress by the door frame. The cot, vertical, its four legs resting
against the wall, presenting its springs to the opening. He tested
the springs now, throwing his body against the linksa stalwart,
unyielding set, not about to bend under a man's weight and give him a
comfortable night's sleep. Yup, the army bought well.
He'd done all he could. Might as well see if his screwy idea worked.
Logan positioned himself by the door, picked up the metal table, held
it by two legs. He foresaw three possible outcomes of what would
happen in the next few minutes: 1-he would escape, 2-he would end up
sleeping on the floor, 3-he would be battered to death.
What Logan didn't know about physics would fill a physics book, but
he had observed that the magnetic field repulsed metal objects with
far more energy than the energy which it received. He also was a firm
believer that everybody and everything had a breaking point.
"So, let's put the two together," he now muttered, "and have us a
little game of Ping-Pong."
Twisting his body, he swung the table around 180 degrees and with all
his strength threw it into the empty doorway. Immediately, the
magnetic field repelled the table with a force three times his
effort, smashing it into the springs. The table bounced back, hit the
field again, returned to the springs even faster
Logan just barely ducked a broken-off leg, was about to straighten
when a second whizzed by, struck the wall and ricocheted off. Citing
caution as the better part of valor, he huddled behind the wooden
chair, pulling the lumpy mattress over him for protection as he
looked out between the chair's slats.
The noise was overwhelming: the springs whanging, the tablewhat was
left of it, anywaycrashing into the bed, the bed itself angrily
chattering at every strike, the table legsthank God, there were only
four of them!snapping off, booming into the walls, or bouncing off
the floor and ringing like church bells, and from the doorway itself
came a hum growing louder and louder until the whole room vibrated.
It was only the table top now, rebounding faster and faster until it
was just a streak and a whang and then, as the humming rose to a high-
pitched, skull-breaking screee like a drill bit going through metal,
the magnetic field suddenly burst with a hollow scrunch like a
dropped watermelon, and the table top flew out to hit the concrete
floor in the hall with a deafening clang and a trumpet flourish of
Logan wobbled to his feet. He was free, he realized dully. But he
wasn't so sure that his freedom was worth the cost. His whole body
was a-jangle: his bones felt like they were vibrating inside his
flesh as if he were some kind of human tuning fork, and his blood
swished about, sloshing in his veins like an agitated sea. Clutching
his throbbing head, he wavered to the door, stumbled out into the
hall, swayed off balance, and was kept from falling by Magneto.
He jerked to a halt, arms dropping to his sides. But it wasn't
Magneto who had immobilized him, rather his own shock. The man
regarded him coolly, looked past him into the wreck of the room at
the deeply pocked and cracked walls where the table legs had struck,
at the cot which had pounded holes in the plaster board for its feet,
at the obdurate springs which bore only flesh wounds in the form of a
few dented links.
"Clever." Magneto nodded in the direction of the army cot, a smile
pulling at his lips. "But not a terribly subtle escape, would you
Logan scowled at everything but at the man before him as he ground
his teeth. "Guess not," he muttered at last.
"However," Magneto continued, "since you seem to have profited by
your days of rest here and regained your strengthand just now so
loudly stated how ready you are to leaveshall we go to the lab and
pick up where we left off?"
Logan shuddered, found he was gasping and couldn't fill his lungs.
"I don't have to restrain you, do I?"
He almost laughed. Stupid to struggle, make a run for it. Magneto
could stop him cold with a curl of his little finger. Logan
swallowed, squeezed eyes and lips tight, gave a single, sharp shake
of head, and followed the man down the corridor, jaw clenched against
futile pleas and entreaties. He wasn't going to beg!he hoped. Out of
the corner of his eye he glimpsed a smirking Toad, a horrified Fawn.
Witnesses to his surrender.
He tumbled down a well of fire, screaming, weeping, pleading for the
torment to stop. And finally it did. But his body still struggled to
escape, limbs jerking, breath fast and shallow as he ran and ran.
"Rest. Rest, now." A cool hand steadied his head while a damp cloth
blotted the perspiration off his face.
He groped blindly, clutched the hand to him. "Make it stop. Please,
make it stop!"
The hand tensed in his grip a moment, relaxed. "It has stopped, my
boy. Rest, now."
But great, wrenching sobs tore him apart and he continued to flee the
phantom pain. The hand slipped away, leaving him alone in the burning
"Noooo . . . " he moaned, reaching out for that anchoring hand. His
eyes flew open, searching for the security, the sanity it offered.
A man bent over him, smoothed back the hair from his forehead. "I'm
sorry. It will all be over soon. This will help you sleep."
A sharp sting bit his arm. It was such a light, playful hurt compared
to what he had endured that he laughed with surprise and pleasure. He
smiled up at the sad-faced man.
"I know you. Don't I?" His words came out in hoarse whisper.
"Yes. I am Dr. Erik Lehnsherr. I am taking care of you."
"What happened . . . to me?"
"You've been hurt. But you'll be better soon. Sleep, now." The hands
arranged the pillow under his head and straightened the covers, one
dropped to squeeze his shoulder gently.
"My brave boy. Your ordeal is almost over. You're doing well, better
than I had hoped. I'm very proud of you."
He felt a flow of warmth surge through him at the man's
praise. "Thank you," he whispered. "Thank . . . " And sleep took him.