A Tall Ship Tale #61: Wat’s Up, Doc?

More of Paul DeAnguera’s epic.

Still carrying their instruments, Captain Quid and his officers made their way through the vast temple complex of Angkor Wat. Its shadowy colonnades echoed the clinking of chains. Beyond this, the lakeside causeway led them to a shrine before a statue of a long-haired, narrow-headed feline.

“What people built that temple?” Sir Hillary Throckmorton-Shillingsworth III asked, pausing to rub the skin under his leg-iron.

“It is a house of worship for cat fanciers; Angora Wat,” their escorts supplied.

“And that?” asked Emma Talligeist, indicating a temple with a small theater built onto one side of it.

“For entertainers; Encore Wat.”

They passed through a small forest. “What about that one?” asked Captain Quid, nodding toward a pyramid decorated with statues of pigs in the next clearing.

“Never mind that!” the captain of the guards exclaimed. “Behold your prison!” For the string quartet was under arrest for playing forbidden music. Beyond a moldering alley in which mangy dogs slunk about stood an ancient fort. Its walls were tall and smooth, and their tops bristled with broken tiles. At each corner a watch tower stood. The guards marched them through the gates and across the cobblestoned yard to a massive stone building. A guard inside unlocked the door. He led them down a corridor past a low sink and a pile of encrusted mops. Beyond this hung a framed slogan:


Then they found themselves facing their cell. “Excuse me, sir, but how long will we be kept here?” Owen Anatu asked the guard.

“You have been sentenced to imprisonment for three kalpas,” he answered with a sneer.

“I see. What is a kalpa?”

“A kalpa is a day and a night in the life of the Lord Brahma,” he told them. Then he ushered them inside the cell and slammed the door shut. They heard the turning of a heavy iron lock, then a second lock. They looked around the cell, and saw four bunks and a small barred window set into the thick stone wall. Beyond the cell door, a monotonous drip of water could be heard. “I wonder if it’s fluoridated?” Sir Hillary said.

“Three days, eh?” Owen mused, placing his viola gently on a bunk and sitting on the floor against the wall. “I guess that’s not too bad.”

The Captain noticed a bagel that someone had left on the windowsill and examined it dubiously. “Do you suppose this is fresh?” he asked.

“How long is a day and a night in the life of the Lord Brahma?” Emma wondered.

“Four billion years!” the guard bellowed through the door. The corridor outside their cell echoed with cruel laughter.

Owen frowned, pulled out his clipboard and wrote:


Emma read over his shoulder with interest as he continued to write:

1. Get out of cell.
2. Get past guard.
3. Get through corridor door.
4. Get across yard past towers.
5. Get over wall.
6. Get out of Angkor.

“But, how will we get these things?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “But look!” he said, pointing directly at the screen. She turned and studied the faces of the Callahans patrons who were watching it. “We’ve got friends. They’ll figure it out; they’ve helped us before!” And he pushed the clipboard through the screen. It landed on the top of the bar with a clatter.

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