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High above the skyscrapers of New York, Doc Savage engages in deadly combat with the red-fingered survivors of an ancient, lost civilization. Then, with his amazing crew, he journeys to the mysterious “lost valley” to search for a fabulous treasure and to destroy the mysterious Red Death.
204 pages, with a reading time of ~3.25 hours (51,165 words), and first published in 1933. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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There was death afoot in the darkness.
It crept furtively along a steel girder. Hundreds of feet below yawned glass-and-brick-walled cracks—New York streets. Down there, late workers scurried homeward. Most of them carried umbrellas, and did not glance upward.
Even had they looked, they probably would have noticed nothing. The night was black as a cave bat. Rain threshed down monotonously. The clammy sky was like an oppressive shroud wrapped around the tops of the tall buildings.
One skyscraper was under construction. It had been completed to the eightieth floor. Some offices were in use.
Above the eightieth floor, an ornamental observation tower jutted up a full hundred and fifty feet more. The metal work of this was in place, but no masonry had been laid. Girders lifted a gigantic steel skeleton. The naked beams were a sinister forest.
It was in this forest that Death prowled.
Death was a man.
He seemed to have the adroitness of a cat at finding his way in the dark. Upward, he crept. The girders were slick with rain, treacherous. The man’s progress was gruesome in its vile purpose.
From time to time, he spat strange, clucking words. A gibberish of utter hate!
A master of languages would have been baffled trying to name the tongue the man spoke. A profound student might have identified the dialect. The knowledge would be hard to believe, for the words were of a lost race, the language of a civilization long vanished!
“He must die!” the man chanted hoarsely in his strange lingo. “It is decreed by the Son of the Feathered Serpent! To-night! To-night death shall strike!”
Each time he raved his paean of hate, the man hugged an object he carried closer to his chest.
This object was a box, black, leather-covered. It was about four inches deep and four feet long.
“This shall bring death to him!” the man clucked, caressing the black case.
The rain beat him. Steel-fanged space gaped below. One slip would be his death. He climbed upward yard after yard.
Most of the chimneys which New Yorkers call office buildings had been emptied of their daily toilers. There were only occasional pale eyes of light gleaming from their sides.
The labyrinth of girders baffled the skulker a moment. He poked a flashlight beam inquisitively. The glow lasted a bare instant, but it disclosed a remarkable thing about the man’s hands.
The finger tips were a brilliant red! They might have been dipped an inch of their length in a scarlet dye.
The red-fingered man scuttled onto a workmen’s platform. The planks were thick. The platform was near the outside of the wilderness of steel.
The man lowered his black case. His inner pocket disgorged compact, powerful binoculars.
* * * * *
On the lowermost floor of a skyscraper many blocks distant, the crimson-fingered man focused his glasses. He started counting stories upward.
The building was one of the tallest in New York. A gleaming spike of steel and brick, it rammed upward nearly a hundred stories.
At the eighty-sixth floor, the sinister man ceased to count. His glasses moved right and left until they found a lighted window. This was at the west corner of the building.
Only slightly blurred by the rain, the powerful binoculars disclosed what was in the room.
The broad, polished top of a massive and exquisitely inlaid table stood directly before the window.
Beyond it was the bronze figure!
This looked like the head and shoulders of a man, sculptured in hard bronze. It was a startling sight, that bronze bust. The lines of the features, the unusually high forehead, the mobile and muscular, but not too-full mouth, the lean cheeks, denoted a power of character seldom seen.
The bronze of the hair was a little darker than the bronze of the features. The hair was straight, and lay down tightly as a metal skullcap. A genius at sculpture might have made it.
Most marvelous of all were the eyes. They glittered like pools of flake gold when little lights from the table lamp played on them. Even from that distance they seemed to exert a hypnotic influence through the powerful binocular lenses, a quality that would cause the most rash individual to hesitate.
The man with the scarlet-tipped fingers shuddered.
“Death!” he croaked, as if seeking to overcome the unnerving quality of those strange, golden eyes. “The Son of the Feathered Serpent has commanded. It shall be death!”
He opened the black box. Faint metallic clickings sounded as he fitted together parts of the thing it held. After that, he ran his fingers lovingly over the object.
“The tool of the Son of the Feathered Serpent!” he chortled. “It shall deliver death!”
Once more, he pressed the binoculars to his eyes and focused them on the amazing bronze statue.
The bronze masterpiece opened its mouth, yawned—for it was no statue, but a living man!