Mark A Davis
Shadows flickered against stone walls, revealing scattered cobwebs. Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, held high his torch as he moved deeper into the cavern. The tunnel was straight, with curved walls and a rounded roof, as if built for a chase scene involving some famous tomb raider and a large rock.
Grandpa wore his usual rumpled gray suit with the silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast, and a matching fedora. Beside him was his current sidekick -- a young boy with dark skin dressed like the Karate Kid.
"You should have brought your fedora," the kid said.
"Didn't need it," Grandpa replied. "It's a nice day."
"Yes," said the boy, "but see, when you slide under a descending stone slab, you can reach back and grab your fedora just before it slams shut. Am I right?"
Grandpa Anarchy grimaced. "Kid, if I was in a situation like that, I'd lose the hat. No hat's that important."
"But it looks cool if you...."
"Nah," said Grandpa, "I lose hats all the time. I buy 'em by the dozen from Ed Toonrad's Suits and Haberdashery on 11th Ave. in downtown Frosthaven. Ed was the current owner's grandfather, the place has been there for decades. I bought hats from Ed Toonrad, and then Thomas Toonrad, and now from Joshua Toonrad."
"And then," said the sidekick, "you could say hatters gonna hat...."
"Point is, I don't need a hat to look dramatic," said Grandpa. "In the first place, we ain't tripping any hidden traps...."
There was a click, and the floor beneath them dropped. They fell a good twenty feet into darkness. Grandpa's torch skittered across the stone.
Grandpa's sidekick bounced to his feet. "Well," he said, "this is the pits...."
And they were in a pit, with walls of smooth stone. Grandpa felt them carefully. "Huh," he said. "How do we...."
A light appeared above them. A rotund man in a mask, cape and black silk top hat peered down. "Oh dear," he said. "You thought you could pursue me to my hideout, Grandpa Anarchy, but now you have fallen into the clutches of -- King Spider!"
The man laughed maniacally. "Fallen into your web, you mean?" asked the boy.
"Pardon?" the villain replied.
"You know," said the boy, "a pun on the whole spider theme. See, I'm the Pun Jab Kid. I fight, and I make puns, so when someone misses an opportunity I can't help but notice it."
The man shuddered involuntarily. "No! I would not say that!" he snarled.
"Did I mention I'm from Jammu?" the boy asked. "I'm Punjabi, see?"
"Yes," said King Spider, "you're a karate kid from the Punjab region. You already said."
"I just feel that puns are a vital part of crime fighting," the Pun Jab Kid said. "But I can't get Grandpa to agree."
"Puns are not a part of how I fight crime," Grandpa said darkly.
"I mean I know some of my puns are bad," said the kid, "but I've always been a little Sikh...."
"I am not here to make puns, you silly boy!" King Spider snarled. "I am here to end your lives!"
"King Spider!" Grandpa Anarchy snarled. "You're wanted for robbing the Frosthaven First National Bank! Now, we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way...."
"Mr. Anarchy, are you really in any position to bargain?" sneered King Spider. "You are in my clutches; your lives balance on a knife's edge."
"You might even say," said the boy, "that our lives hang by a thread...."
The villain shuddered again. "No," he said. "Why would I say that? There is no thread involved. None! Now, no more talk of puns! I expect you to die, Mr. Anarchy! You and your silly sidekick! You will die... in my pit filled with harvestmen spiders!"
King Spider laughed like an unhinged psychopath. He pulled on a lever. Part of the pit wall rose, and hundreds of harvestmen spilled across the stone surface.
"Do not move, Mister Anarchy and Mister Pun-Spewing Karate Kid! Right now you two are surrounded by eight-limbed arachnids, creepy crawly arthropods with compound eyes and venomous fangs and multiple limbs and...." The villain gave a shudder. "Oh! It makes my skin crawl just to think about it!"
Grandpa Anarchy and the Pun Jab Kid watched curiously as the insects spread out. "This," said the sidekick, "is just sad. Harvestmen? Really? Not even tarantulas?"
The villain squeaked in fear. "Tarantulas? Oh, not on your life! Those things give me the willies!"
"Harvestmen aren't actually spiders, you know," said Grandpa. "Even I know that. They're related to spiders, but they're basically harmless."
"Ooh, but they're so creepy crawly!" exclaimed King Spider. "It sends shivers up my spine just watching them scatter everywhere!"
"Seriously, I don't even think they can bite us," said the Pun Jab Kid. "I'm surprised you know so little about them. What are you -- a recluse?"
"Spiders are the most terrifying thing on the planet!" King Spider said in a voice tinged with hysteria. "Who wouldn't be terrified of them?"
"I'm just saying," said the kid, "that you could come up with more dangerous spiders. Try searching the world wide web."
"All spiders are dangerous!" King Spider said.
The Pun Jab Kid sighed. "You know, I try," he said. "Oh well."
He scooped up two handfuls of harvestmen and tossed them high. They landed on King Spider, who screamed like a little girl and thrashed about. "Aaah! Noooo! Kill it! Kill it with fire!" There was a loud crash, and then there was silence.
"Ran into the wall and knocked himself out," said Grandpa Anarchy. "That happens every time with this guy."
"Seriously?" asked the sidekick.
"Seriously," Grandpa replied. "When I said we could do this the easy way... well, it's always the easy way with him. He's one of my most pathetic foes. His chosen name is a web of his own creation, and it always entangles him...." He glanced at his sidekick, who was about to speak, and added, "No pun intended."