A Tall Ship Tale #54: Easy Come, Easy Go

Thanks are given to Liquor of alt.callahans for technical assistance on this entry in Paul DeAnguera’s epic punishment.

The H.M.S. Legume had become dislocated in time. Struggling back from an unintentional excursion to the Jurassic period, the frigate had only progressed futureward as far as the 6th century BC. And, although the First Mate was willing to grant that this was a good part of the way to the familiar, modern 19th century, he was not looking forward to walking the rest of it. He became aware of a rhythmic hacking close to the deck, and peered under the star board to see the ship’s cat unconcernedly disgorging another hairball.

“Why, that’s what has happened to us!” Professor Peabody exclaimed with a pull at his already very long ear. “I think that the space-time continuum has rejected us — expelled us, expectorated us and, with what may well have been a universal feeling of relief, utterly abandoned us,” he mused as he leafed through the ship’s log.

“But why would it do that?” the First Mate asked, idly checking the time on his PDA.

“Put that thing away this instant!” Peabody flared. “That’s exactly why — anachronisms! It all started in Chapter 3. Peter the Great died in 1725; we should have missed him by a century. Then there was the flying saucer wreck, the Frigian goddess, the Jurassic pork, and that business in Firuzabad. That city won’t be called Delhi for another six hundred years! I think we’ve started a rip in the space-time fabric. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the gods were completely fed up with us!”

“AYE, THAT BE THE WAY OF IT ALRIGHT, YE BLITHERING SWABS!” bellowed a voice from the heavens.

“No, no — I was mistaken,” Peabody shook his head. “That can’t be right. It must be something else.”

“I guess it must be,” the First Mate agreed. They paused to watch the ship’s final approach to Panaji, a dismal clutter of crumbling towers and rotting wharves on the edge of the Arabian Sea. The shabby port was surrounded by shanty-towns of sugarcane workers and other rootless folk. “Dr. Talligeist should find plenty to do here,” he said thoughtfully.

“Modern medicine can bring much comfort to these unfortunate ancients,” Peabody agreed. They went to the main deck to help Emma load her equipment into the longboat and set up a dispensary on the beach. As word spread about the tall, pale-skinned barbarian healer, a crowd of patients gathered around her tent.

“The sugarcane cutters are suffering the most,” she sighed as she conducted another migrant worker to her dentist’s chair. “They can’t resist sucking the juice of the cane, and then their teeth give them such pain! You can help me by going to the bazaar and getting some cloves. They will deaden the pain of their cavities until I can extract the teeth.” The First Mate nodded and started walking into town.

“Where are you going?” Sir Hillary asked, falling in with him.

“I’m looking for the bazaar,” he answered.

“What are you going to buy there?”

“Transient dental medication.”

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