The 86th Floor of The Empire State Building

Doc Savage’s private office was more of an amalgamation of tribal, meditative parlors of the East and West, such as the Zen Buhddist temple where he studied the ancient healing techniques of the Orient or the Sioux Shaman’s sweat lodge where he learned the mysterious and frightening ways of the spirit walk. In lieu of traditional Western seating such as chairs and couches, large ornately upholstered cushions lay all about the room. The walls were decorated with beautiful tribal art from all over the world, as well as unusual musical instruments from India, Africa, Australia and various other cultures. In the center of the room, Johnny and Doc sat with a large, round sculpted stone table between them.

“Is this a Mayan clock that we’re sitting at?”

“It is. Good eye. Can I interest you in some tea? It was a gift from the Dhali Lhama. It promotes focus of the mind and balance of the body’s spiritual energy.”

“Uh, yeah sure thing, Doc…you do realize this is a doomsday alarm which is ticking down to the end of the world that you have sitting in the center of your den of love and light, right?

“That is one theory. Another is that the when it “ticks” down to its final moment, the world will be ushered in to a new age of rebirth. More of a transformative era, not unlike a snake shedding its skin.”

“And I’m guessing you pitch your tent in that camp huh?”

“The idea is a bit more comforting to most people than thinking our world will be split in two throwing us all in to the unknown void to die with no explanation or cause, but I feel, periodically meditating on one’s own mortality as well as that of everyone and everything around you helps to “keep your powder dry” when it really counts and that’s why we’re sharing a pot of tea across a “doomsday alarm” Johnny.”

Johnny smirked in to her cup as she sipped her tea.

“Y’know, you’re not quite what I was expecting.”

She got up and began to walk about the room examining and scrutinizing the things around her.

She made her way to one of the book shelves and perused the selection which ranged from Nitsche and Thomas Edison to Sun Tsu and Leonardo Da Vinci.

“What were you expecting exactly?”

She smiled and turned back to her host.

“I’m not really sure. Your father was always so conservative and precise… you’re more…”


“I was gonna say, looney, but we can go with unorthodox.”

Doc got up from his seat and walked over to a wooden chest in the far corner of the room. He pulled a key from around his neck and after opening it, he stared in to the trunk with a look of proud sorrow.

“When I was a boy Johnny, my father was researching and cataloguing the assorted flora and fauna on a small island just north of the tropic of cancer, an area most people refer to as the Bermuda Triangle. His research was highly extensive and required a commitment of about six years, so that island became our home for all that time, which to a nine year old boy is like finding out you just moved to Treasure Island. It was a truly magnificent place to discover every morning.

Everyone lived in huts. The entire research team helped to build them just inside the tree line of the forest, but Renny, Long Tom and Monk decided that I should have quarters a bit more fitting for a young pirate, so they built me a tree house. It was all very Swiss Family Robinson really. I even had a rope ladder to get back up and down and a hammock to sleep in at night.”

He closed the lid of the chest and sat back down to have a sip of his tea. Johnny followed suit and went back to the table.

“Sounds like it was paradise.”

Doc finished his tea and placed the glass back on to the table. He folded his hands together and continued his tale.

“One morning I woke up and found a visitor in my house. A capuchin monkey had been perched on my window sill and was watching me as I slept. I imagine he was wondering what a strange hairless ape was doing sleeping in his tree. I shared my breakfast with him and he followed me around from that day on. I called him Friday after Daniel Defoe’s character and just as Crusoe’s companion the day of the week on which we met. I can’t be too sure after all these years, but I probably also felt giving him a name like that, brought me closer to actually becoming one of the fictional heroes whom I held in such high regard.

Friday and I became inseparable. We were either hanging upside down from tree branches, gorging ourselves on bananas and coconut water, or dozing on the beach at sunset. One morning I woke up, and Friday wasn’t there. Usually, I would find him gnawing on a mango or something on the roof of my hut, but this particular morning I couldn’t find him anywhere. I got worried, so I set out to find my father. He of all people would know what to do, right? One of Ham’s crewmen informed me he was in the medical tent and when I arrived there I saw the single most horrifying scene I could never have imagined.

There stood my father in his mask and glasses and laid out on his examination table was Friday. The top of his skull had been removed and my father was slicing out cross sections of his brain.

‘What happened?’ I asked ‘Did he get hurt?’

Do you know what my father said? He said, he was ‘merely trying to deduce the origin of the capuchin’s capacity for problem solving.’

I stared at him in disbelief. This man wasn’t my father. I didn’t know who this was or what was happening. I ran out in tears. I made my way to the beach and attempted to split the ocean in half with my screams and sadness. I collapsed, hopeless and not knowing what to do next. A moment later, a large shadow stepped in front of the sun and asked me why I was so upset in a Scottish brogue. As I recounted the details of the morning to Ham, I heard a screech that was unmistakable. Friday jumped down from Ham’s shoulder. He told me he looked bored sitting on my roof top waiting for me to wake up, so Ham took him fishing. I can’t even begin to express the amount of relief and happiness that washed over me in that one moment. Ham clapped me on the shoulder, told me he was glad he could help and took off with the mornings fresh catch on slung over his shoulder.“

Johnny looked at Doc with suspicion.

“Why do I think that’s not the end of the story?”

“Because that’s not the end of the story. Even though Friday was alive and well, with his skull still firmly in place, the whole misunderstanding just wasn’t sitting well with my adolescent mind, so I decided to teach my father a lesson. I gathered a few things in my rucksack and I left the camp without a word to anyone.”

“Where did you go?”

“To live with Friday and the rest of his friends and family. Many weeks prior to that day, I had seen the canopy that the capuchins were living under deep in the heart of the jungle and I made my way there. I lived in those trees for three days and two nights, eating, playing and sleeping amongst a treetop village of fifty plus of his kind. Father and the rest of the team had been scouring the jungle for me and occasionally I would leave some sort of sign that I was still alive in the forest somewhere, but I evaded all detection by them. On the third night, when everyone was asleep, I snuck back to my own treetop quarters and completed the end of my father’s lesson. When it was done, I snuck in to his hut and left it for him to find the following morning and when that morning came, he climbed up to the top of my tree and when I woke, he proceeded to apologize for what I had witnessed days earlier and he added that he would not be experiment in that fashion on any living creatures ever again and he stayed true to his word ever since.”

Johnny stared at Doc in confusion.

“He didn’t blow up at you for disappearing in to the jungle for days without word? He didn’t box your ears or tan your hide or anything of the nature?”

“He hugged me and took me fishing.”

“What did you leave in his hut that night?”

“A ten page scientific journal I had written. It was all my own personal theories and deductions regarding the capuchin monkey’s ability to solve complex problems all gleaned from spending three days in the jungle with them and never once having to perform any invasive or harmful procedures. He even had it published for me in one of the country’s leading scientific periodicals.”

Johnny smiled and shook her head at him.

“Unorthodox, huh?”

Doc returned the smile and offered her some more tea which she outwardly accepted, but inside secretly wished he was offering her something a bit more aged and distilled.

“Did I mention that my father and I had also taught Friday to fish? He got to be very good at it too.”

“Like I said, looney.”

At that moment the door burst open and Miranda came rushing in to the room. She looked distraught and frightened.

“Docta’ Savage! Something’s happened! I just heard it on the news and then the police called.”

“What is it Miranda?”

“It’s your cousin and her family sir. Their house burned down and they can’t find them anywhere.”

“Pat? Are you sure? What did the police say, Miranda? Tell me exactly.”

“They told me that after the fire was put out, they searched every bit of the property and couldn’t find any sign of them and they questioned Wolfgang’s boss at the store and he said the boy left work with his dog to go home just like he does every day. None of their neighbors have seen or heard anything either.”

Fire blazed behind Docs eyes and he ran to the mysterious trunk that had sparked the tale told to Johnny, only this time he pulled something out of it. Doc strapped on his shoulder holster and checked his gun.

“Miranda, tell the boys what’s happened and let them know I’ll be in touch as soon as I can. We’ll reconnoiter at Hidalgo later this evening unless you hear otherwise.”

“I’m coming with you.” interrupted Johnny.

He dug back in to the trunk and produced another gun. He tossed it to Johnny.

“Then you might need that. Lets go.”

The two of them ran passed Miranda strapped for action and ready for anything. Moments later they were exiting Docs private elevator on the basement level. Doc mounted his Henderson KJ Four motorbike and Johnny climbed on to the back of it and within minutes they were roaring up 34th street, weaving in and out of traffic at break-neck speeds. There were a million questions running through Johnny’s mind that she wanted to ask Doc, but the rumble of the engine prevented any ease of speech, so she concentrated instead on holding tight to Docs torso to keep from flying off the back of the bike.