Authors: Zach Neal
Tags: #crime, #suspense, #adventure, #action, #satire, #zach neal, #temple of the jaguar god
Temple of the Jaguar God
2016 Zach Neal and Long Cool One Books
following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person
living or deceased, or to any places or events, is purely
coincidental. Names, places, settings, characters and incidents are
the product of the author’s imagination. The author’s moral rights
to the proceeds of this work have been asserted.
Table of Contents
Temple of the Jaguar God
were in the sixth form at Rugby. The end of term was coming up
Hamble, a year older, threw the letter down. He stared off into
What an extraordinary fellow.”
been having a bit of a nosh-up in the privacy of Jeremy’s room. The
two of them had pooled all kinds of hoarded private tucker when
Hamble, always with his nose into everything, scooped up what was
another fellow’s private and personal mail. He was a big, hulking
fellow with a heart of gold. Jeremy was grateful for his odd
friendship—and a bit of protection.
. Yes, he really did
say that.” Hamble shook his head in disgust at the fancy,
monogrammed letterhead. “Fellow of the Royal Society, member of the
his feet up on the coffee table, he stuck his hands into his
waistcoat pockets in a characteristic pose.
was from a family of genteel county aristocracy, at least to hear
him tell it, up Shropshire way. He could be, or beat on a ruffian
whenever he wanted to, which was as often as he thought no one was
looking and he could get away with it. Not so much evil, as
amusing, thought Jeremy. And why not. Other than school, this part
of the world—Rugby School in Warwickshire, was as boring as any
other place he’d ever been.
Harry, Doctor Harold C. Fawcett, Ph.D., was an alumni of their good
old alma mater. Not that Jeremy Crowe was so fond of it. Not
hardly, always with the low grades, and not a snow-ball’s chance of
shining at either the letters or the games. If it wasn’t for Uncle
Harry, Jeremy wouldn’t even be there. The financial support was
more than welcome. Otherwise he would have had to go out and muck
and toil for his livelihood, something Jeremey wasn’t all that
enthused about. He was still young enough to dream of better
was his mother’s younger brother and had made his name quite young,
with a fortunate dig in Mesopotamia.
good at games was everything, but sweat and strain as he might, run
like hell after the ball, bigger fellows, not all of them older
men, made him look decidedly sick.
And he’s a doctor?”
Yes. Of a sort.”
Are you going?”
raised his eyebrows.
Egads. I hadn’t really thought all that much about it—” There
was that family connection, and some sense of
was something he’d always hated.
Well, you’d better make up your mind. Pretty damned quick, old
Yes! I suppose I should.” Jeremy raised the tea cup and
as always, no matter how much he ate, it never seemed to translate
onto his lanky five-foot, eight-inch frame.
longish blond hair out of his right eye, Jeremy picked up the
letter and read that last part again.
Wire me soonest. Will provide money and tickets. We leave from
Southampton on the ninth. You have to do something for the summer
holidays and this is the opportunity for a little adventure. Yours,
Weird Uncle Harry.”
sighed, deeply. The thoughts of another long and lonely summer at
home in Norfolk drained all resistance. Stuffy country society
versus the Spanish Main—or so it seemed. Yet at one time he might
have looked forward to it, but most of his friends had moved on as
well. That was one side of the coin.
mother fussing around, all things great and small, and his father’s
evil eye upon him.
what is your
big plan in life young man—
Harry was at least
bugger always had been.
Huh. I suppose there’s nothing else for it.”
Venezuela—some sort of mad archaeological
The Temple of the Jaguar God.
always had been his favourite uncle.
Last Christmas, the last time he’d been around the
name for his father’s rectory, he’d been spouting Lewis
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.”
thing he knew for sure—his father would always be poor.
wasn’t careful, so would Jeremy.
Uncle Harry seemed to have the knack of doing whatever he
Venezuela, you say. Hmn.”
the cooling breezes and azure seas of the crossing, and they had
been lucky to have good weather for that, the jungle clad hills and
olive waters of the Orinoco were a stark contrast. So was the heat.
As the old steamer chugged along, painfully wheezing its way
upstream, there was little to do but to try and stay cool and get
to know the other members of the party.
stout and sweaty Señor Hernandez owned the boat they were on,
skippered by a bald-headed, fiercely mustachioed captain constantly
chewing on an unlit cigar. He was a small, slender man with a wide
round head. For some reason no one could quite catch the name, no
matter how many times they asked. The captain’s nephew, a boy about
a year younger than he, Paolo, was the only other hand apparently
required for what was almost a small ship.
was his uncle, of course, looking raffish in a newly-sprouted beard
and a bush jacket with an incongruous straw hat of local
manufacture. Khaki shorts with a hundred pockets, Argyll socks and
desert boots. A monocle on the right eye and a watch-chain hanging.
That was his uncle, all right.
Syrmes, about thirty-five years old, was his uncle’s secretary and
trained in archaeological documentation. He would be doing drawings
and cataloguing of artifacts as well as being in charge of the
digging. If in fact they found anything. He was still young enough
to be boyish still, in spite of his height.
struck Jeremy that he was there to dig. All expenses paid, of
had broad shoulders, a bull neck and looked like a handy lad in a
even more so regarding Kevin Smith although he was shorter. Uncle
Harry had introduced him as a former soldier. He’d been at the
Somme. This one had a couple of scars on his upper lip. Long and
rangy, there was slouch in the walk that belied the steel-grey
was guide and adventurer. He was being paid very well for his time,
which was sort of unique among them.
Apparently he’d been up the river before on unspecified
errands. In Jeremy’s opinion it had to be either gold or
gems…something to do with poaching perhaps. Selling guns and
whiskey to the natives, although he might have been thinking of a
This was all his own imagination,
could look after himself.
Day, impeccably dressed, always the perfect gentleman, was paying
his own way as he put it. There was a bit of family money there.
With an interest in antiquities and primitive South American
peoples in particular, he was an occasional journalist.
real need to work, he had described it as a kind of vanity. Jeremy
hadn’t actually seen any of his work, but that meant
Uncle Harry had some sort of gentlemen’s agreement on an exclusive,
whether or not they ever found anything. Venezuela, and especially
the hinterland, was like the other side of the moon to the average
reader. According to Mister Day, a certain kind of person ate up a
certain kind of sensationalized adventure.
had nothing better to do than listen.
interesting of all, were Mister and Mrs. O’Dell. An American
millionaire, thickening up in the middle according to him, easily
late fifties or early sixties, Peter was a collector. He was
looking forward to the thrill of discovering evidence and proving
the existence of an unknown people and culture. This was rumoured
to exist in the high hills a hundred miles inland. It would make
his name as he put it. His wife, Melody, quite a bit younger, was
the most perfectly decorative woman Jeremy had seen in quite some
time. Yet there was the spark of a deeper intelligence in behind
those quiet eyes, and it was interesting to note the sick thrill
when he caught her examining him in some kind of assessment,
possibly even amusement.
Hopefully he didn’t appear too callow in her eyes, although
he knew he was young, very young.
Especially when she looked at him like that—
didn’t necessarily make him a fool.
nothing much had happened, other than being sleepless from hot
steamy nights, queasy from sleeping on a boat, always in motion,
bitten by bugs, afraid to drink the water, and almost afraid of
going ashore at all. Not after seeing the biggest snake in the
world poke its head up and then swim along, outpacing the boat on
her port side and then disappearing into the low, overhanging
branches and into the dappled green shadows where land presumably
met water at some mysterious and unknown point.
he’d seen a half a dozen crocodiles, sunning themselves on a
sandbar, and heard one or two stories of unknown creatures taking
people in the night, he’d been pretty much convinced. He’d seen
some very large spiders, and those were in a hotel room in Caracas.
They were all over the boat as well.
jungle was a place of disease, blood-sucking bats, foot-fungus,
dysentery and uncivilized tribes, some of whom had not yet been
Jeremy had to marvel. London to Southampton to New York, New
York to Caracas. Local steamer east again, then down to Guyana
City, after threading the maze that was the Orinoco Delta. Days at
sea, days on a coastal steamer. Days aboard the
her shallow draft designed
for river travel, and now he stood on the red, gravel soil of the
It was a
completely different world and he knew nothing of it.