Authors: Keith Thomson
“Thar two she’s blow,” cried Stupid George from the bow.
We were about three miles east of Venezuela. Ahead, a
couple whales were frolicking at the surface. But neither more
than forty tons—shrimps compared to the blubbery bastard.
All of a sudden something—a speeding train, it seemed—
slammed into the starboard part of our hull, knocking the whole
brig to port. Everything not bolted down flew that way. Just
when it felt like she’d capsize, gravity righted her.
“A torpedo?” Nelson guessed.
The whole crew was mystified. Except me.
From the second of impact, I was sure the bastard had
somehow known it was me aboard and attacked preemptively.
I know, you’re thinking: Openshaw, sperm whales don’t attack,
never mind preemptively, never mind for personal reasons. Well,
check out maritime history. Sperm whales do attack sometimes.
And what Dickhead did next should dispel any doubts about
personal reasons. He reared up out of the water like a stallion,
his eyes found mine on the bridge, and he grinned. At the sight
of him, hate burned in every cell I’ve got.
“Well, what say you we harpoon the bastard?” I said to the
They were already running to the whaleboats.
A word about harpooning whales. If you want to just pop
your bastard from the deck of your brig, there are guns that fire
harpoons with an explosive head. One of those babies hits its
mark, the whale’s got as much chance as a beach ball struck by a
grenade. According to my crappy special religious dispensation
license, though, we have to use the kind of harpoons the
Indians used way back when. You know the ones—forged iron
head attached to a wooden shaft six or seven foot long with 75
fathoms of line (450 feet I’m guessing for you greenhorns) tied
onto it. You drop a whaleboat (which has much more mobility
than a big yacht) over the side, get in, and hustle after your
whale. Then you land harpoons (just a couple of them’ll do you)
and let him drag you by the lines like you’re water skiing, till he
gets tuckered out. Then it’s game over. That was our plan.
There was no time to drop a boat today however. The wily
Dickhead quickly spun round and flew off. Knowing my enemy’s
wiliness, though, I’d brought a harpoon gun in spite of the law.
Wrong, I know, but I simply couldn’t risk him getting away.
So I audibled the back-up plan. We’d chase after
him in the helicopter—as luck had it, former-pirate Nelson knew
how to fly it, having stolen a couple before—and fire the gun
from up in the air. Luck was off somewhere else when it came
time to board the helicopter though. Due to the damage from
the whale ramming the yacht, the helipad collapsed and the
copter plopped into the sea and started to sink.
Stupid George then did something that was almost pretty
smart. He fired a harpoon at the copter. His thinking was that
with the line from the harpoon, we’d be able to reel in the
copter with no more than a puncture wound in the fuselage and
some water damage. Problem was, the harpoon George fired
was the one that was in the GUN. When it hit the copter, the
harpoonhead exploded. A millionth of a second or so later, the
copter blew up too, turning into a ball of flame like something
out of the origin of the universe. Fire swept our deck. Everyone
dove for cover.
Except me. I hardly paid it heed. That .357 Magnum I’d
gotten off Nelson—I was emptying it into the fleeing bastard. I
was fully aware the bullets, if they even reached that far, hardly
tickled him. But you know, sometimes, when a whale’s eaten
your wife, kid and arm, you just want to shoot him anyhow. Cost
me my eyebrows and most of my arm hairs to the fire.
A half-hour later, we’d got the fire put out, but the deck
was dark as midnight from smoke. Also, all our computerized
engine controls and navigational crap had crashed. Dickhead’s
pod was long gone of course. But unless he’s going ashore for
dinner in Venezuela, he’s heading south. And we’re on his tail.
I need to sign off now. Unfortunately, with lights and
sirens going bonkers, a cop boat is on our tail.
P.S. Here’s a scrimshaw of Stupid George that Flarq did on a
coffee mug (we have obviously got to get the guy some damn
whale’s teeth soon). “George is like an idiot savant,” said Nelson,
“in that he is an idiot.”
The Bad News:
1. My yacht was boarded by sea cops and we were arrested. It
turns out every member of my crew is wanted for something, and
me for harboring them, among other stuff.
2. Needless to say, the blubbery bastard and his pod got away.
3. We were taken to a tiny desolate island and tossed inside a
dungeon built four hundred years or so ago by the Spaniards as a
place to let prisoners, if they were fortunate, get nibbled to death
4. Our jailers are the same guys who pulled us over in the cop
boat and confiscated the yacht and all of our possessions as
contraband (in other words, they’ll fence it). They did let me
keep the computer though—one of them, as it happens, is a fan
of this blog.
5. They’ve got no incentive to free us, ever, as they are
subcontractors for the local government. You get this a lot in
these waters— remote old jails left over from the Colonial days
now run as private businesses. The jailers get about fifty bucks
a day reimbursement per prisoner. They feed prisoners nothing
but water and porridge, which costs them about a half a cent a
day, so they make a decent profit for every day they keep us here.
6. The local government subcontracts the exact same guys to be
the little island’s judge and jury too. Guess how they ruled in
7. The seven of us (me, Flarq, Thesaurus, Nelson, Stupid George,
Duq and Moses) are sharing a cell the size of your typical
bathroom. In fact, it smells like it used to be a bathroom. For
elephants. Elephants with intestine problems.
The Good News:
1. Several of the crew’ve got experience with jailbreaks.
The past couple days the crew and me have had plenty of time
to swap stories, there being nothing else to do in our dank little
cell. Most popular: Duq’s tales of his interrogator days in the
Vietnamese prison camps. He used to do a variation of Russian
Roulette called Vietnamese Roulette, where all the chambers had
bullets in them.
Flarq had a cool story about missing with his harpoon
once but still taking out the whale with his fists.
Unfortunately, nobody had any stories about breaking
out of a solid stone cell with a slit of a window a rat couldn’t get
through (we tried, to settle a wager) and with a slab-of-steel door
a rhino couldn’t budge.
You knew it was getting slow when someone asked Stupid
George for a yarn. George claimed that, before a hip injury
(which he got somehow on the toilet) forced him to retire, he
was a star on the Gaming House circuit, fighting under the name
“Rockhead George was a legend,” Thesaurus snorted, “No
way you’re him!”
Flarq also knew of Rockhead George by reputation. “You
either lying,” he told George, “or far stupider than we thought.”
I ought to explain gaming houses. Caribbean’s full of
them—they’re extremely large thatched-palm huts—or extremely
tiny arenas, depending on how you look it. The two main events
are single-stick (where two guys stand a few feet apart clonking
each other in the helmets with poles, points awarded by a
referee) and head butting (like it sounds, contestants butting
against one another like rams till somebody falls). These places
are spectacles. They’ve got bleachers stuffed with fans that
make those crazy European soccer fanatics look like a church
congregation, and bets change hands so fast you’d think that the
bills have got wings. Rockhead George won the Lower Antilles
Head Butting Crown four years in a row.
“If you’re really Rockhead George,” said Duq, “let’s see
you ram your head into the cell door.” Sick bastard just wanted
to see George’s brains splatter.
“He’d have to be an idiot to do that,” laughed Moses.
Before everyone could agree, George charged the door and
lowered his noggin. And that’s how we escaped the cell.
Still, we’ve got three armed guards, a pack of foam-
spewing dobermans, and a machine gunner in the watchtower
to get past. And even if we do, it’s pitch dark out and we have
no idea how to get off the island. Maybe George, both my new
favorite crewman and Employee of the Week will come up with
P.S. A former resident (or a current one, depending how you
count them) of our cell.
The crew and me made it out of our cell without attracting any
attention. No one could see us, that’s for sure. Other than just
the occasional tiny scrap of moonlight through the ventilation
grates, the corridors made plain old black seem bright.
We felt our way along the damp, mossy, scum-caked
stone walls. But even if we had klieg lights, you’ve gotta realize
this dungeon was built in the days when architects put in
tons of pitch-black winding corridors, spiral staircases, secret
passageways, hidden trap doors leading to mysterious catacombs
and crap like that for the sole purpose of making it impossible
for a prisoner to get out unless he had the blueprint.
Fortunately, I’d managed to download the blueprint
from the dungeon page of this one sadomasochist website that I
Using the blueprint, slowly but surely, the crew and me
made our way to the “Exit” door. Nelson picked the lock no
problem and opened it. Only to find we’d been duped by the
The door lead not to freedom, but into an old torture
chamber. And the prison guards were sitting there waiting for
us, and they seemed psyched to give the old machinery some
Those sadists on that sadomasochist website really are sadists.
Thumbscrews, the least of our worries…
The torture chamber was packed with all the junk you’d expect
in a 400-year-old dungeon—a big old wooden rack, the boot,
an iron maiden, thumbscrews, stockades, a witch dunker, and
a bunch of more stuff involving sharp metal spikes. But the
nastiest bit was the stench. Turns out that was my crew’s doing
though. Result of four days on nothing but greasy porridge.
The night warden, an affable-seeming young guy named
Kip, was a graduate of Yale University. How’d Kip go from the
hallowed ivy halls to the graveyard shift in a dank dungeon on
a tiny desolate island? It was his dream job. See, he really, really
liked torture. He’d been following my quest for the blubbery
bastard over this very blog. He let me keep my computer in the
cell precisely so me and the crew’d find the doctored blueprint
of the dungeon on his website, bust out of our cell, and walk
right into his sadistic game room where he and his pair of psycho
henchmen were waiting like it was Christmas morning.
The three jailers tried to stick Thesaurus in one of those
witch-testing tanks full of water where if she floated, it proved
she’s a witch, and if she drowned, she wasn’t (reason they finally
discontinued those tanks is that nobody ever floated). Thesaurus
was too big to fit, so they submerged Nelson instead. He’d drown
in five minutes tops (unless of course he was a witch). Thesaurus
they clapped into brackets and stuck him with me, Flarq, Moses,
and Stupid George in the big long stockade at the back of the
room. We’d get our turns soon enough.
Duq was the jaliers’ next customer. They stripped the
cook butt naked and dragged him to the rack. Duq, who’d had
experience with these sort of racks during his days as a Vietcong
interrogator, begged them not to lay him out so that his head was
at the far end. So of course that’s exactly what they did to the
Kip then took the wheel at the near end—what activated
the rollers that stretched Duq’s body out. Kip cranked it, giggling
away like a sugar-high third-grader as Duq’s neck stretched,
making awful popping noises. “Even Torquemada,” Kip shared,
“was too squeamish to put victims in this head-first position.”
At the same time, his two twisted henchman went to work
with butane torches. Their plan was to light the dynamite they
had so that, after they’d had their fun with us, they’d make it
look like we died blasting our way out of jail. In the meantime,
the torches served a second, completely sick purpose—singeing
Duq one painful butt hair at a time. Turns out this was exactly
what Duq was hoping for.
All the sudden, Duq loosed twelve bowls of porridge’s
worth of gas into the torch flames. The gas ignited, causing a
blanket of fire that scorched the two henchmen and smacked
Kip, causing him to recoil, losing hold on the wheel. Duq, whose
feet were right by the wheel (where his head should’ve been
originally) then was able to kick at it in such a way that the rack
sprung him up and free. He then scurried beneath it to shield
himself when the dynamite blew, which it did a moment later.
Thesaurus and those of us in the stocks were protected from the
blast, for the most part, by the face of the stockade itself. Nelson
wasn’t harmed cause he was underwater in the witch tank.
After the dust and crap settled, Duq yanked Nelson
out of the water. He was woozy but okay enough to help Duq
(Employee of the Week) spring us from the stockade. We
then ran over our scorched-to-death captors (who smelled like
barbecue as it happened) and out.
Now just the watchtower/machine gun nest to get past
and we’re back on the fat tail of the bastard.
P.S. Kip the night warden. The watering-can type thing on
his head is some sort of Dark Ages executioner’s hat that, he
boasted, cost a month’s salary.