great ball of fire (part 3)
Even if the somber faces gathered around the large table in the Pentagon’s formerly-named War Room, meaning that it was called the War Room but someone with a morose sense of humor had recently taped a piece of paper over it renaming it Panic Room, believed Nap Lapkin and his theory that the comet had consciousness the information didn’t help much. While it perhaps explained why this anomaly they had been tracking for a decade had suddenly made a slight course correction and had gone from harmless blip in the night sky to engine of doom and destruction they were no closer to figuring out how to deal with it.
Nap had begun disappearing and plowing the comely assistants that prowled the halls at a rate that was beginning to unnerve the usually-unflappable Generals. It was not uncommon for him to duck out of a meeting after making eye contact with a pretty girl walking by the room and not returning until everyone had endured her cries of passion and ecstasy for more than an hour, in part due to the woefully inadequate acoustical properties of the adjoining supply closet, but since his arrival he had spent more time in the supply room that the War/Panic Room, at one time at least two distinct female cries of passion and ecstasy were heard in what could only be described as a cacophony of foul language and grunts.
He was not taking the news well.
This worried the Generals.
Finally he once again entered the room, wearing only one shoe, and collapsed into a chair.
“So what do we know for certain?” he asked.
“Well, until three days ago this comet was due to fly by with millions of miles safely between us. Then out of nowhere we get a call from some geek with a telescope asking us if we were aware that it was now on a collision course.”
For me to try and describe the particular General or even give him a name is simply a waste of everyone’s time. You have the room pictured, you have the Generals pictured. I trust you.
This did not sit well with Nap. He has seen the movie Armageddon. He looked out the large window of the conference room hoping a cute woman might be walking past. I originally typed that it was a small window but then changed it to large after realizing that nobody describes a window as medium-sized.
“Nap! For god’s sake man. This is serious.” said another General.
“Lance! For fuck’s sake man. Who gives a shit about the window?” said almost every reader.
“Have we considered flying a team of misfit blue-collar deep-core drillers up to the comet, having them crash land on it then blow it up using a nuclear bomb?” Nap asked intensely.
“You just described the plot of Armegeddon” replied a General curtly.
“Yes. Yes I did.”
“Of course we did” said another General sheepishly, “Apparently that isn’t possible.”
The news hit Nap particularly had due to the fact that Armegeddon was one of his favorite flicks of all time and there was a part of him that believed that he had been left to blow up the asteroid like Bruce Willis he would have somehow survived the blast and ended up washing ashore in Tahiti to great fanfare.
Suddenly Nap noticed a thin man in the corner that wasn’t dripping with medals, badges and ribbons. In fact he looked downright civilian.
The man spoke. “This bad boy has a nucleus fifty miles across, an extended atmosphere of over 70,000 and a tail that goes on for days.” A scientist.
The scientist fidgets for a few seconds. “The last part isn’t scientific. I was paraphrasing that scene in Joe Dirt where Christopher Walken says his ex-wife’s legs go on for days.”
“Definitely a scientist” Nap thought to himself.
“And I’m thinking about the scene in Independence Day where the geeky scientist tries to make a joke when the fate of the world hangs in the balance and everyone in the theater wants to shoot him” Nap said aloud.
“Can we give the comet a virus?!” one of the Generals piped up with great enthusiasm. When he realized that his enthusiasm was misplaced he was suddenly happy I had not given him a name or even bothered to describe him in any detail so he could slink off into anonymity.
“We’re getting nowhere fast and we’re running out of time” said the largest and jowliest of the Generals. “So if we’re done plumbing the depths of the silver screen can we start to come up with some real suggestions?” he continued.
“If only John Hughes were here” Nap thought wistfully, “He’d figure it out.”
The room feel silent. Finally all eyes turned to Nap.
“To start with” he offered up, “I’ll need to get closer to it. We’ll need to speak.”
The room fell even silenter. Occupants of the room looked back on the prior silence as if it were Mardi Gras.
Finally Nap Lapkin spoke again.
“Someone get me a rocket.”