“Look out!” cried Waldo.
“What in the name of the Seventh Sea—” started the Magistrate, but before he could move a muscle, the tarantula stung him right between the eyes. Grand Consular Magistrate Tarbush the Untainted went green in the face and collapsed on the bench.
“Oh, great,” muttered Waldo, and the room exploded in panic.
For a moment, he could only stand and watch dumbfounded as the horror unfolded before his eyes. The Assembly of Administrators fell over themselves trying frantically to reach the exit, climbing atop one another, jabbing each other with elbows and knees, even biting and yanking each other’s beards. Some scrambled up the walls, reaching for the windows, but the tarantula stung them first. Others hid under their seats, stepped on by their colleagues. Many burst into tears and tore out their hair in despair as the exit became clogged by fleeing Administrators. The flying tarantula attacked them all without mercy.
When the captain of the guard fell, green-faced and foaming at the mouth, Waldo snatched his keys and unlocked the chains around his wrists. He looked desperately for his grappling hook, trying to avoid being trampled by the frenzied horde, but found it smashed to pieces on the floor.
“There’s no time for repairs,” he said to himself. “I’ll just have to simplify things.” He removed the large spring from the machine’s ruin and fixed it to the bottom of his feet. Then he took his butterfly net in hand, hoped for the best, and jumped.
Waldo sprang into the air like a grasshopper, high over the heads of the crowd, almost reaching the iron chandeliers. Then he fell back to earth and the spring recoiled, shooting him into the air once more. After a few near-disastrous bounces against the wall, he got a feel for it. Soon he could more or less control where he jumped.
“I’ve got you now!” cried Waldo, and he chased after the flying tarantula, springing and swiping his net. The tarantula tried to loop out of the way, but Waldo moved swiftly. He vaulted off a wall, swung up and around, and snagged the monster in his net.
“Ha ha!” Waldo cried.
But the flying tarantula was stronger than he thought. It pulled at the net, buzzing its wings harder than ever. “Hey!” said Waldo. “Stop that!”
With a ferocious yank, the tarantula pulled the net straight out of Waldo’s grip, then flew up into the air and out the window with it.
“Oh no you don’t, not this time!” Waldo shouted, and he sprang up as hard as he could, sailing up and out of the broken courtroom window.
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