Shrewsbury, England, 1941
Indiana Jones drove the army Jeep he’d been provided with into the middle of the town, over the Severn river to the marketplace where he’d been sent to meet George McHale. Captain Ross of US Army Intelligence had warned Indy that if was late to the meeting, he’d find the Brit in the nearest bar, or being kicked out of it. Indy checked his watch – right on time. As he pulled to a stop and killed the grumbling engine, he heard shouts and turned to see two men in army uniforms fall through the door of the White Lion pub. A third man appeared at the door and scolded the two men.
“If you two fought the Germans as well as you fight each other, we’d be in Berlin by now!”
The first man jumped to his feet, flipped the bird at the man Indy assumed to be the landlord, and ran off. The other man, overweight and with a slim moustache, lay groaning as the landlord returned inside. Indy cocked a half-smile, put on his fedora and messenger bag, and jumped out of the car. He walked over to the man and extended a hand.
“So much for British hospitality, I guess…” he offered.
“Ah, these Northerners can’t take a bloody joke.” The man replied in a cockney accent. “George McHale.”
“Indiana Jones. What was that all about?“ Indy replied as he helped McHale to his feet.
“Oh, I thought his sister was his wife.”
“And he hit you?”
“Not for that, he hit me for what she called me!” McHale winked and slapped Indy’s arm. Indy’s smile faded. He hoped McHale wouldn’t be this insufferable all trip.
“I was sent to meet you.”
“Oh yeah, you’re the Yank that’s going to find the Holy Grail!”
“What difference does it make, they’re both fairy stories. We’ve got the best job in the whole bloody war.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that…” Indy replied.
“Well Jonesy, you can call me Mac. This your car?” McHale jumped into the driver’s seat and started the engine as Indy nodded an affirmative and climbed in beside him. “The place we’re going is a series of caves about half an hour from here, on the Welsh border. The Army was doing a live ammo test in one of the caves and blew their way into a cavern that has some writing and drawings on the wall, showing Arthur and the round table.”
Indy scoffed “There’s no evidence to suggest that anyone who might have inspired the Arthur legend ever had a round table of his closest confidants.”
“Yeah, total bollocks, that’s what I said. But old Winston’s got a soft spot hasn’t he. You ask me, it’s not Arthur he thinks he is, but Jesus Christ Himself.”
Indy smiled as he thought of his father’s voice saying “Blasphemy!” in his head, but said nothing.
They travelled mostly in silence, the usual pleasantries and personal histories exchanged. McHale seemed to be expecting to die at any moment, an attitude Indy thought would probably see him either survive the whole war out of irony, or get them both killed in the next day or two. “Mac” didn’t give much away when they turned to the topic of why he was given this mission, but the way that he deflected any serious inquiry with a joke, suggested to Indy that this was someone’s way of keeping McHale out of the way for a while, but he suspected McHale was aware of that.
They reached the cave in the mid afternoon, and ventured inside, the network of caverns and tunnels twisting and turning, quickly making any natural light useless. They proceeded with the aid of their torches, saying barely a word to each other.
After about ten minutes of walking, the men heard a sound similar to machine gun fire, but more consistent and sustained from deep within the cave.
“What is that?” McHale mused.
The sound grew in volume, the source still unseen by either man.
“Whatever it is, it ain’t good.” Indy grumbled.
Suddenly a flock of bats was upon them, surrounding them with shrieks and the beating of wings. McHale screamed and flailed his arms. Indy dropped to the ground.
“Quit screaming Mac, you’re only gonna confuse them.” Indy shouted at him, to no avail.
Finally the bats passed and McHale stopped screaming. He shook his body as if to make sure no bats had attached themselves to him.
“Dirty flying rodents.” McHale offered by way of explanation.
“It’s their home, not ours.” Indy replied, lacking sympathy. McHale grumbled something incomprehensible, and they continued to walk deeper into the cavern.
Their torches scanned over the walls of the passageway, which dripped water as they passed. Enough to make the ground slippery, but not sufficient to form a stream to avoid. Finally they reached an opening which led them to the larger cavern McHale had talked about, with images of the Arthur legend around the walls.
“Here we are then…” McHale offered. “Time for you to work your magic.”
“Archeology isn’t magic, it’s the discovery of facts. All I see here are stories.” Indy replied as he examined the walls. “And stories can be pretty liberal with facts…”
McHale followed Indy, inspecting the drawings as if he were searching for the same meaning as Indy. He hoped Indy wouldn’t notice that he had no idea what he was looking for at all.
“These drawings are most likely from the 10th century…” Indy explained. “You can tell from the rudimentary tools and limited colours they’re drawn from.”
“Right, I thought the same.”
“Then how do you explain this?” Indy asked, shining his torch onto a figure instantly recognisable as Arthur, pulling a sword from a lake. His clothes shimmered in the torchlight, gold leaf reflecting the light back at the two men.
“I thought he pulled the sword from a stone?” said McHale.
“Stories differ on the point…” Indy said, a glimmer in his eye and a grin appearing on his face. “But why would this drawing be so ornate?”
“I don’t know.”
Indy reached into his bag and pulled a pick axe from it. He tapped the walls either side of the drawing, a solid thud echoing in the chamber each time. Finally he tapped the image of the lake and a thinner tick rang out. Indy looked at McHale and smiled.
“Hidden chamber.” The two men said in unison.
“I have some dynamite, we can blow a hole in the wall.” McHale offered.
“We don’t know how far it goes behind, it might do more harm than good. We can use this.” Indy held up the pick axe. “Sorry, Art.” Indy swung and hammered the image of the king.
The wall was thicker than he anticipated and digging through took the best part of half an hour between them. Finally McHale had made the hole big enough to look through. They shined the light of their torches inside and illuminated the hilt of a sword. The blade was flawless, and the hilt a simple white with writing engraved along it.
“You do the honours…” Indy offered.
“Don’t mind if I do, Jonesy.” McHale’s eyes were wide as he reached, grasping the sword with his right hand and pulling, but not dislodging the sword.
Indy laughed, “Very funny Mac, now let’s go.”
“I can’t move it Jonesy… It won’t budge.” McHale didn’t sound like he was joking. “You try it…”
Indy reached in to the gap and pulled the sword with all his strength. It came away from the wall instantly and Indy fell to the floor. McHale didn’t laugh. “Thanks” Indy shot at him.
“I’m not joking mate, it wouldn’t move for me… It was lodged in there. Maybe the sword in the stone myth is true.”
“It’s been sitting there hundreds of years, it probably just got caught, wrapped up in moss and weeds.”
“Either way, we got what we came for, let’s get back to town. I know someone who can tell us if we’ve got the real thing.”
They walked back along the passages they recognised before, following the smell of clean air. As they came to see natural light again, three figures stood silhouetted at the cave entrance. One spoke as they approached, Indy’s eyes not yet adjusted to the sunlight.
The man’s accent was instantly recognisable as German.
“We have to thank you Doctor Jones. You’ve saved the Führer a great deal of effort.”
The other two men cocked their machine guns
“Put your hands above your heads… We will take the sword now.”
“Nazis…” Indy muttered. “I hate these guys.”
2 thoughts on “Indiana Jones and the King’s Sword”
100% intended 😉