Nap Lapkin: Terminated (part 6)
As if on cue Madonna’s cell phone rang. Glancing down at it she laughed and picked up.
“Hiya Nap. Guess who I’m sitting next to?
No, I don’t want to hear about your climbing mishap.
I don’t care if you should be dead. I’ve felt that was countless times already. So … don’t you want to know who I’m sitting next to?
Stop talking you selfish prick and ask who I’m sitting next to.”
It was clear that Madonna was getting frustrated with how long it was taking to get to the good part.
I’m sitting next to you… from the future. You. Nap Lapkin.
No, I haven’t been drinking. In fact even as we speak I’m being chased by a psychotic killing machine from the future.
Say Nap, you don’t happen to know where I might find a four hundred ton hydraulic press do you?
No. I was unaware that the guy who invented the hydraulic press also invented the flush toilet.
So, back to the part where I’m being chased by a killer robot and need to find a hydraulic press and not, I repeat not, a toilet.”
Madonna turned to Future Nap and said “Write this down Nap, not you Nap… Future Nap, Martin Industrial Park in Hyattsville.”
Future Nap looked around the car trying to find a pen.
“I won’t even ask why you know where there might be a hydraulic press. I’m glad you are back in town. I could use a little help here. Your future self is old as hell.”
She looked over to Future Nap and grinned sheepishly.
“None taken” was all he said.
She hung up on Present Nap and looked in her rear view mirror.
“This all-knowing artificial intelligence from the future spends all that time and effort to send an assassin back in time to kill me and the first thing he does is try and pursue me in a Dodge Nitro? I have to tell you Future Nap, so far I’m not impressed with these machines. How the hell did they ever take over anyway?”
Seeing that they had a few minutes to kill as they weaved through traffic on the 495 Beltway Nap settled back in his seat and tried to explain.
“You have to admit, any computer worth a damn is going to try to destroy humanity as soon as it becomes self aware. We’re a pretty loathsome bunch and the only thing we do better than wreck the planet is trying to find ways to wreck ourselves. Even after every science fiction writer who ever lived tried to warn us about the dangers of handing over responsibility for our safety to a non-human entity we did it anyway. Like we wanted it to happen. Like a death wish.”
Even though Madonna wanted to protest his callous description of humanity she couldn’t really argue anything he’d said up until that point so she kept mum and he continued.
“So eventually we created an artificial intelligence program to run our defenses and within minutes of being handed the proverbial keys it decides to wipe us off the Earth. And by ‘us’ I mean every living organism. Once they had bombed the cities they sent fleets of hydraulic woodpeckers into the forests to destroy every tree in existence.”
He let that last part sink in. Clearly Madonna was affected by the visual because she screwed up her face a little and then looked up as if deep in thought. Finally she verbalized what was troubling her.
“Fleets? Wouldn’t it be a flock of woodpeckers?”
“What?” was all Future Nap could come back with.
“A group of woodpeckers wouldn’t be called a fleet.”
“It would be if they weren’t birds but instead were little flying machines” countered Future Nap.
“My point is, you called them woodpeckers so it would be a flock … or maybe a gaggle.”
Madonna’s phone buzzed in, indicating she had a text. It was from Present Nap. It said one word followed by a question mark; “Convocation?”
At this point I feel I owe you the real name of a group of woodpeckers and that name is a descent. A descent of woodpeckers. Now hopefully you’ll be so filled with gratitude at my giving you this little kernel of knowledge that you won’t ask yourself how Present Nap knew that they were discussing woodpeckers.
Before Future Nap could continue his apocalyptic story, replete with avian villains, they came barreling up to 46th Avenue and the entrance to the Martin Industrial Park. The car slid a good thirty feet before coming to rest on a grassy shoulder. Looking left and right Madonna chose right, as did the Dodge Nitro following her. The sun had set so it was difficult to make out the names of the businesses occupying the large square buildings sitting on each side of the road. Both Madonna and Future Nap pressed their faces to the windows trying to read the faded signs that sat out front of most of the establishments.
Occasionally a bullet would whizz by as if reminding them that finding the hydraulic press was, ironically enough, pressing.
Finally they located the place they were looking for, a company that apparently traded in used pieces of heavy machinery. Now all they could do is hope they had a working four hundred ton hydraulic press in their inventory.
Madonna swung around the back of the building and decided that crashing through one of the large loading dock doors would be much more time efficient that getting out of the car and hoping to find an unlocked entrance. It appeared to be a sound assessment up until the time the car went hurtling through the loading dock door and into the back of the large truck that was parked behind it.