Location: Optics Lab

Captain Ager's Puzzling Adventure

Answer: click here to reveal

I had a dream that I was solving a crossword puzzle. Or maybe I was sailing the seas? Or maybe both.... The words are all jumbled together in the story.

Fifteen years prior, the Nazi cabal forces were defeated in a long struggle against the CIA and KGB organizations. This war to end all wars was finally put to rest with the swift dropping of the steam bomb, Aster Boy. Countless civilians and kale plants perished. The Nazis, unwilling to be on the destructive receiving end of another steam bomb, surrendered the next day on the first night of Kwanza. The end of the war brought not only peace, but also the invention of Oreos, a flourishing of steam-based technologies, and an era of adventure.

One of the adventurers of this age was Captain Eli Ager. As of late, questions about chocolate fueled Captain Ager's thirst for adventure. What is the best way to anneal chocolate? What are the most eco-friendly uses of cocoa beans? Would agar pair well with chocolate mousse for desserts? To find the answers, he wanted to go right to the source: Charlie, of chocolate factory fame.

Finding Charlie was no easy task. Ager and his crew visited seven chocolate factories before finally getting a clue as to where Charlie may be. "He's on a business trip," said an executive at the Oslo, Norway factory. "He's gone to stuff his piehole with exotic ingredients from the Boompa forest in Alaska. Anyway, care to ante into a game of poker?"

After a riveting game of poker, in which the poetry of James Agee was declared the winner, Ager and his crew set sail for Charlie's factory in Nome, Alaska by way of the Arctic Circle. The ship had reached a few degrees north of the factory when disaster appeared.

"Water spout ahead!" shouted Captain Ager to the women and men of his crew. "Quick, somebody press Ctrl+Alt+Del! We need to make edits to the pathfinding algorithm!"

Captain Ager had no intention of getting his steam ship, the Polar Ionizer, sucked into its vortex, but that variable looked to be beyond his crew's control grid. Moreover, why was a water spout so close to the Arctic Circle? How could it have formed in this icier climate?

"Lordy, it's an ice tornado!" shouted his first mate, Erica Ulna.

Chaotic shouts engulfed the ship as it drew closer to the swirling mass of ice and water.

In we go, thought Captain Ager glumly.

When Captain Ager next awoke, he was alone and in a cave. Curiouser and curiouser, he thought. The cave was lit gently by luminescent crystals in the walls, and he could hear the sound of brooks bubbling quietly. Somebody had placed him on a bed of ferns. Then he heard the hissing.

Coming towards him was a crawling shadowy figure. Crap, a snake! Captain Ager thought frantically. Where did it emerge from? Play dead! Play dead! He closed his eyes and assumed a limp position. A tense moment passed as the snake's sounds came closer. Then he felt something wet and soft dab against his forehead. He opened his eyes in time to see a very large snake use its tail to dip a small towel in a bowl of water.

"Sssssss... sss...," hissed the snake. "One is led to believe that you're rather surprised. You've been unconscious for nine hours. My name is Amadeus. Do not worry, you are quite safe with me. I don't even have venom sacs. I am a boa, but I have no interest in sssqueezing you to death either, because I'm pescetarian."

"Th... thanks, that's good to know," squeaked out Captain Ager.

"I imagine you're quite hungry. Here, have this gyn and tonic." On cue, a large dormouse scurried onto the scene.

"Here is your gin and tonic, sir," said the dormouse, handing Captain Ager his drink in a beige cup. "Forgive Amadeus. He always says the word 'gin' incorrectly. Oh, and forgive me for not introducing myself. My name is Ludwig. Amadeus and I have been fast friends for the past two decades. Yah! You're hungry! Just gin and tonic won't do. Just you wait there."

Ludwig scampered away and then scampered back with a bed tray holder, topped with a steaming plate of eggplant parma and bok choy. "And here you go! Don't be shy about digging in. We actually have bins of produce around here. We just had a large harvest."

"I imagine you're also quite confused. Do you have any questionsss...?" Amadeus asked Captain Ager with a toothy smile.

"Yes, plenty," started Captain Ager. "First, why can both of you talk?"

Amadeus opened his mouth in a smile. "Remember the steam bomb Aster Boy? When it was dropped, countless civilians and kale plants lost their lives.... But we survived. We and our kinsmen survived in the arid mountains of Wyoming. Whenever we were lucky enough to find food or water, we would dole out what little we had amongst ourselves. We ended up finding a rare elm tree filled with delicious rounded berries, but those berries turned out to be magical, because Inigo Montoya once peed at that tree. They granted us the gift of speech, and they also made us grow bigger."

Captain Ager took a moment to absorb Amadeus's story. Then, he said, "That doesn't seem to make any sense."

"I ask that you suspend your disbelief, por favor," beseeched Ludwig. "Pretend that you're a character in a fictional story, or else the plot can't progress. If it makes you feel any better, we have dual American-Canadian citizenships."

"Okay, sure... that makes even less sense, but I'll take it," said Ager.

"Glad to hear you're sssuspending your disbelief," hissed Amadeus. "Now, let's hear your other questionsss."

"Why are you named Amadeus and Ludwig?"

"Simple! We're classical music fans. We've been so for ages," said Ludwig. "I'm a huge fan of Beethoven, and Amadeus is a huge fan of Mozart."

"Indeed," said Amadeus, with a happy look in his eyes. "I love his andante pieces... so moving. Most of all, I love his piece 'A Musical Joke' because I think its bitonal ending is quite amusing. Also, my favorite nursery rhyme is 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.'"

"And my favorite classical text is the 'Tao Te Ching,' by Lao-Tze," added Ludwig. "Well then, if you have no more questions, we'll leave you to rest for a little bit more. That ice tornado did a number on you."

"Wait! I have more questions. Where am I? Where is my crew?"

"You're on Vancouver Island," answered Ludwig. "Your ship is miraculously fine. You were knocked unconscious, but the rest of your men and women suffered only minor injuries, got bored, and decided to go see a live sex show."

"What? There are live sex shows around here? You mean, with snakes and dormice, or with humans?"

"Humansss, complete with lewd acts and hot bods. The hottest bod belongs to Ted Smith, for sure."

"I'm partial to Ned Smith's hot bod. The flexion of his hips is so smoking!"

"Whatever you sssay. They're identical twinsss."

"Anyway, we told them to go see the live sex show. Brian Eno happens to be playing songs at the venue tonight too. He came here straight from a concert at Penn State. Oh, if you're worrying about your crew having unsafe sex after watching Ted and Ned, don't panic. Amadeus gave them dozens of latex condoms before they left. We didn't want any ova to get accidentally inseminated tonight."

Amadeus nodded in agreement.

"Oh, and here, please take a look at this." Ludwig handed Ager a chocolate bar. Printed on the label in Helvetica was the sentence "My banana contains 7E -7 mCi of radiation and a mariachi band."

"Charlie sent this here a few days ago," said Ludwig. "He said something about putting parts of it straight into the grid. We were asked to hand this chocolate to the captain of a ship that would arrive by ice tornado. That's you!"

Captain Ager stared at both the snake and dormouse. "But... but... how? Why?"

"That's a puzzle to us too."