As I woke up groggily, I was bewildered by the sounds around me, the breeze I felt across my face. I sat up gradually in the darkness, wondering why my surroundings didn't look familiar. I stood up and took a step backward, only to bump into a ledge of some sort with my foot. My arms flailed wildly, and I barely managed to right myself. I turned and looked where my foot had hit…
Far below me, vehicles were speeding along a roadway, and below them, water. I was standing on an upper part of the structure of the Queensboro Bridge.
As the wind whipped around me, my heart began to race. What on earth am I doing up here?
I rushed to the end of the thing I was on and looked for any way down from there. Nothing remotely resembling a ladder or climbable surface. I had to get up here somehow! The fear of heights I had thought long outgrown was beginning to make itself known again. I pulled my eyes away from the water below and gasped.
The Green Goblin.
I ducked as he flew by on his glider, severing one of the beams supporting my bridge over the bridge before making his way along the cable used by the gondolas.
Oh, no. I don't know what he's going to do, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be good. But why bring me up here? I was baffled by his interest in me, although I assumed it was him that had brought me here.
The cold wind was nothing compared to the chills that shivered down my spine when the familiar loud, raspy voice of the Goblin began to sing.
"The itsy-bitsy spider ran up the water spout…" He aimed his glider at something. "Down came the Goblin, and took the spider out!" He laughed triumphantly as he caused a massive explosion near the base of the bridge. Flames engulfed the bridge, and I could hear car horns and breaking glass. Heat now suffused the wind that had previously made me shiver.
I saw the gondola cable break, and the car plummet towards the troubled water below. The Goblin grabbed the flailing cable in his metal gauntlet…why? I wondered…and pointed his glider back in my direction.
Before I knew what was happening, the Green Goblin was holding me by the neck in one hand and the cable in the other.
My heart leapt as I saw a familiar figure speeding through the air towards us, and despite my precarious situation, I knew I was safe. I continued to struggle, hoping the Goblin would let go of me so that Spider-Man could catch me. Or I could fall to the water below, which was a better option than being choked by cold green metal.
"Spider-Man!" came the terrible voice beside me. "This is why only fools are heroes." He shook me, and I screamed. "Because you never know when some lunatic will come along with a sadistic choice: let die the woman you love—" He looked at me, and in the darkness, the luminescent yellow eyes were more terrifying than ever before— "or suffer the little children." He shook the cable held firmly in his other hand. I could hear the screams of the kids, and I joined their sounded protest.
"Make your choice, Spider-Man…and see how a hero is rewarded!" His words struck fear into my heart.
"Don't do it, Goblin!" The hero's voice barely carried over the wind, but I sensed the hint of desperation in his tone. That alone scared me more than the Goblin ever had. Spider-Man, afraid? I knew I was really in trouble then.
"We are who we choose to be," the Goblin rasped. "Now, choose!" As I fell, and I saw the gondola car do the same, two things occurred to me: one was that I hoped those kids wouldn't waste their lives, and the other surprised me. I don't want to die…I'd never see Peter's face again…
Then something warm and solid smacked into me, and instead of speeding downwards, I was pulled in a vast arc along the bridge. I was shocked to see the red spandex-clad arm around my waist.
He couldn't have chosen me, over all those kids—there are so many of them, with their whole lives ahead of them, and there's just one little old Mary Jane Watson, failed actress and lonely pretender.
He made the wrong choice.
Then I saw that we were speeding in the direction of the cable that was attached to the falling car. Spider-Man grabbed it out of the air, and I screamed, realizing that that was the hand he had been using to hold his webs. But I held on tightly, and somehow, miraculously, he managed to use the hand holding me to shoot a web up to the underside of the bridge. I felt the now-familiar bungee-cord spring as the web held, although my grip was not very strong, and I nearly fell.
I realized that falling here would be far more painful than falling from where the Goblin dropped me. There, it would have been into freezing water, death on impact. Here, I would probably hit the gondola, roll off the edge and then into freezing cold water.
Part of the webbing attached to the bridge pulled free, and we fell lower. I screamed again, voice almost hoarse by this point.
Nothing like death staring you in the face to make you think.
Like why Peter's name was the one that popped into my head as my death wish, of sorts. I mean, I had a thing for Spider-Man, maybe just a silly crush, but…Peter? Maybe he meant more to me than I ever imagined.
Or, maybe I was just so accustomed to his constant encouragement that I didn't know how to do without it…
No, I'm pretty sure you don't think of just before you die, just because they believe in you.
The sound of the Goblin's glider broke into my thoughts. "He's coming back!" I screamed at my rescuer.
"Listen," Spider-Man said urgently. "I need you to climb down."
By this point, I was completely panicking. "I can't!"
"Yes, you can!" His voice was rather rough from the strain he must have been under, but I still heard the underlying familiarity of his tone, and the belief in me that he obviously had.
More of the webbing snapped off the bridge.
"MJ! You can do it—you have to."
I looked into his face—or, rather, his mask—and knew he was right.
I do, Spider-Man. I do trust you.
"Hold on tight—and go quickly!" He seemed to know what was coming, and, I presume, wanted me safe before it happened.
I carefully let myself down, and tried to climb down the cable like we had the rope in phys. ed. class. Except this was twisted metal wires, rather than softer cloth fibre. Rope burn didn't even begin to describe the pain, and I was only holding up my own weight. Spider-Man must have been in agony…
I forced myself to keep going. Thinking about that is not going to get you anywhere right now, Mary Jane Watson. You need to get down to that car, so he doesn't have so much to worry about.
"Hurry!" he urged. He must have seen the Goblin approaching, but I was oblivious in my panicked state. I cringe every time I remember this whole scene; the amount of screaming I did disgusts me.
"I cant…I can't do it!" I cried.
The Goblin's approach was near now. "Hang on, Mary Jane!" he shouted hoarsely, knowing what was coming.
The Goblin came and delivered a furious blow to Spider-Man's head. How he managed to hold us at all I can't even begin to imagine. We began swaying furiously, and I nearly flew off the cable. I was only holding on by one hand a second later, and had to use all of my determination to grab on to the cable once more.
And then came the Goblin again.
I looked up in horror as Spider-Man hurtled through the air, arcing until he was upside-down. We plummeted to the water.
Suddenly our descent jerked to a halt, and I completely lost my grip on the painful cable. I barely managed to grab a rail around the roof of the gondola, but my hand slipped and, for about the seventh time that night, nearly fell to my death.
I heard the Goblin's chilling, thundering voice cut through the night. "It's time to die!" He sped toward Spider-Man, and terror struck me through the heart.
Suddenly I heard new voices added to the conglomeration of screams and maniacal threats. Men's voices, coming from the deck of the bridge. I looked up. I couldn't quite make out what they were saying, but then I saw flying debris of some kind colliding with the Goblin, and could only assume that the occupants of the bridge were hurling them.
What a show of support for Spider-Man! I had to feel sorry for the guy; he was masked, so no one could thank him properly for saving them, and the newspapers—well, really, the Daily Bugle—just wouldn't let him be. And now, here were some random citizens, saving Spider-Man. I almost smiled until I remembered where I was.
While the Green Goblin was distracted, Spider-Man let the cable slide slowly through his hands to the barge below that had lined itself up to catch us. I later saw the blood and fabric fibres streaking much of it, and wondered how he could have stood the pain.
As the gondola car hit the deck of the barge, cheers erupted from the car and the barge, and I thought I heard some from the bridge above as well. But my thoughts weren't on our safety. I was looking up at the man who so bravely rescued us. And the thing that was intent on destroying him.
"Spider-Man, watch out!" I screamed, seeing the Goblin's attack. Spider-Man was still hanging from his web line, probably weakened greatly from his efforts to save us. I gasped as the Goblin threw a rope around Spider-Man and pulled him away to a location unknown to us, presumably to finish him off.
The Goblin's words from the bridge echoed through my head. "Make your choice, Spider-Man…and see how a hero is rewarded!"
Well, he had made his choice. Instead of just saving me, or saving the kids, he saved all of us. Barely.
He chose to save all of us, at the expense of himself. He was gone now, likely to die in the ensuing fight with his arch-enemy, and all because he chose to save us.
He truly had made the hero's choice.