Nap Lapkin: Terminated (part 2 of 6)
(originally posted May 2018)
He was a few hundred feet from the top when Nap fell. He had been stuck for over an hour in the same spot, his knee wedged into a crack and seemingly nowhere for him to keep moving upward. Going back down wasn’t an option. He instead spent some time fuming over the comments made at the rock gym about the Tom Cruise ascent during Mission Impossible 2. Two complaints in particular stuck out; the first being that nobody would jump sideways and down during a climb. They went on and on about how it would be impossible deal with the momentum associated with such a maneuver. Second, seasoned climbers would never turn their back to the wall while hanging off two handholds with their arms extended sideways.
He had made a mental note to make sure that at some point in the climb he would jump sideways and down then turn his back to the wall while hanging off two handholds with his arms extended sideways.
It was as important to him that this happen as it was that he make the climb in the first place. When he was meeting a beautiful woman for the first time he needed to be able to catch her eye with a look that said “I have jumped sideways and down then turned my back to the wall while hanging off two handholds with my arms extended sideways.” You can’t fake a look like that. That’s what other men never understood. It’s why he could bed any woman he wanted.
There was a price to be paid for this gift and he was in the middle of paying for it.
The wind had picked up a bit and fatigue had begun to set in. He looked around and saw a small ledge that had escaped his notice earlier. Mostly because it was so damn sideways and down from where he was at the moment. I mean, really sideways and down. Ridiculously sideways and absurdly down.
“Fuck Tom Cruise” he said softly and leapt.
His foot hit hard and began to slide. His hands clawed wildly for purchase and momentarily found nothing but air. His ass bounced off the rock and he realized that he only had a second before he ran out of ledge and gravity, momentum and all those douche bags at the rock gym would be proved right. He extended both arms fully before dropping over the ledge… and hung there. His back to the wall while hanging off two handholds with his arms extended sideways.
A triumphant roar escaped his lips. He looked down at the dizzying depths below him. He looked left and right for somewhere else to grab.
There was nowhere else to grab.
“Well this sucks.”
His fingers began to ache and he felt a quivering in his arms. In the distance a large bird began slowly moving towards him.
“Of course. A fucking eagle. Not even big enough to carry my weight. Perfect.”
His mind raced. Was there a way to get a bunch of eagles to head over and lend him a hand?
“Is it a gaggle of eagles? That doesn’t sound right. Flock?”
It’s not a gaggle or a flock. A group of eagles is a convocation. Because the eagle is the symbol of this great nation Nap would later look this up.
It was ten torturous minutes before the eagle finally made its way over to Nap. It landed just above his head and leaned over to look him the eye.
“Come to eat my liver?” Nap asked him. The fact that he could verbalize any thought at this point was nothing less than heroic. Most of his fingernails had ripped off, his arms and chest were on fire and sweat was dripping off him and then beginning its six hundred foot fall to the talus slope.
The fact that he was making a Prometheus reference should give you an idea of the type of man we’re dealing with here. Able to hang from a ledge using only two handholds with his arms extended sideways for ten minutes and still come up with a reference from Greek mythology. A rather appropriate one at that.
The eleventh minute ended up being a bit trickier though and by that I mean his hands gave out and he plummeted to a certain death on the rocks below.
That is until giant air bags suddenly inflated underneath him and broke his fall.
He was not expecting this rescue and even resented it a little as he had made peace with slipping this mortal coil with a hundred feet still to fall. Of all the ways a man can bite it he ranked this near the top so when the bags popped open and he felt himself bouncing instead of splatting he was of mixed emotions.
“Those bastards! Those rotten head-shrinkers. I guess I’m getting too predictable.”
The fact that he was such a valuable asset might be a nice thing to reflect on until you realize that at the end of the day you’re still just an asset.
He could only hope that anyone who knew about this little adventure had been terminated. He had a reputation to uphold after all.
He reached for his phone and requested a lift back to Washington.
Madonna Axion’s two story townhouse sat in a quiet suburb of Washington D.C. Given the fact that she was rarely home it was wholly unremarkable and provided her only the basic necessities of life; a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, a weapon’s locker and, until recently, a hummingbird garden.
In her line of work it was important to be able to relax so three years ago she had taken the time to research what type of plants hummingbirds are attracted to in order to create a cornucopia of dining options for the little guys. In the end she planted six different flowers that she was assured by the local gardening shop would make her hummingbird garden the hip spot to be if you were interested in nectar.
For the first summer all six flowers grew happily and occasionally a hummingbird would drop by and Madonna would be filled with a child-like curiosity at the way their little wings would be flapping away as they hovered and sampled the garden’s bill of fare.
The second summer one of the vines that sported long thin reddish flowers that the hummingbirds seemed to cherish decided to make a play for more room. By May it had taken over the entire garden, wrapping itself around each of the other contenders and strangling the living shit out of them. When August rolled around the war was over and only one plant was left standing.
This spring the garden was obviously no longer enough for this voracious vine. It had raced up the gutter downspout to the roof, over the trellis onto the deck and along the fence to the neighbor’s yard. It seemed to be growing a foot a day and had I not decided to make the cyborg assassin the main point of this story would have made a great antagonist.
Speaking of which, does this plant play any role whatsoever in the story about the cyborg assassin?
No. It does not.
“So why even mention it?” you might be asking yourself.
Because it’s enormous and to try and describe Madonna’s house without bringing up the gargantuan flowering vine that appeared to be consuming the back half of the aforementioned would be irresponsible. It would be like skipping past the fact that Madonna had two rooms where she had wallpapered over a stucco wall because she liked the look of it or she sincerely believed that at one time in human history dogs could talk but they were so self-absorbed and needy that eventually it was best for all concerned if they stopped.
Honestly I’m not sure I like your attitude. You’re going to have to trust me a bit more.
One of the upsides of this garden-denizen-run-amok is that it attracted great flocks or gaggles or convocations or swarms or herds of hummingbirds and the upside of this was that from sunrise to sunset there was a low hum that could be felt inside Madonna’s house. The only time it stopped was when there was a visitor. It acted like a cheap home security system.
As Madonna left the couch to acquire a beverage before the commercials ended and her television program began again the humming stopped. Instinctively her hand reached behind her back to the loaded SIG226 she kept in her belt. She crept up to the window and saw a man approaching her front door. Seconds later the doorbell sprung into action and her hand relaxed.
Very rarely are enemy agents polite enough to ring the bell before shooting you.
She opened the door and there stood a man who looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties. It was hard to tell because he appeared to be in tip top shape and was soaked with sweat from his head to his feet. She immediately recognized him. Sort of.
He appeared momentarily startled by being recognized so easily.
“What the hell happened to you? You look terrible.”
He appeared momentarily startled by being insulted.
“Madonna… you look amazing. Can we talk inside?”
Once safely ensconced in the house Nap seemed to relax a bit and took a deep breath. The droning of hummingbirds started up again.
“Why do you look so fucking old?” inquired Madonna.
“Because I am. I know you will find this hard to believe but I’m from the future.”
It was quite impressive how fast her SIG 226 materialized in Madonna’s hand and how quickly it was pressed against Nap’s forehead.
“Try again” she said between clenched teeth and dragged the tip of her gun across his face as if trying to wipe away make-up or tear away a mask.
“Ouch” Nap said between clenched teeth.
He continued. “I know how it might sound but you’re in grave danger. A robot from the future has been sent back in time to kill you because your son is going to lead the resistance movement that eventually defeats them and saves all humanity.”
“Riiiiiiight….” She replied and slowly started to squeeze the trigger.
“Wait Madonna! It’s true. I know it sounds just like the plot of The Terminator but it’s true. I’m not sure how much time we have to talk. Thankfully the killer cyborg doesn’t know where you live and there aren’t phone books anymore. That should give us some time.”
“Or he could just find out where I live from any number of people in the human resources department” she said in a sarcastic tone.
“I guess you’re right. I hadn’t thought of that.”
Outside the humming stopped.