Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Robot Fight

"Sweet Sassy Molassy!" I yelled out, staring at a robot climbing slowly over the stands. My mind was doin somersaults and my stomach was tryin to keep up. It was at least twice the size of the robot I was in and made entirely of a material I'd never seen before. I assumed it was some kind of metal, it bein used to build a robot and all, but it weren't shiny like metal is. In fact, it was the exact opposite of shiny. The whole robot seemed to drink in the light like a linebacker that's just run 98 yards for an interception field goal drinks Gatorade. That robot was so dark my eyes couldn't even really focus on it. It was like there was this robot-shaped hole in space that was shootin fire out of it.

And talk about fire. It's like this big ol' sucker had just eaten a thousand nuclear wings and topped it off my swillin down a curry and Tabasco shake with a habanero garnish. I ain't never seen so much fire in my life. Not even when I went to the "Bring Your Own Flaming Barrel" dance that the 4H threw last year. I tell ya, up until I saw that there fire breathin shadow, it was the most fire I thought even God would ever see. Brian Johnson, runnin late for the dance at which he was plannin on proposin to Peggy Lee Bigbritches, pulled his 18 wheeler right up next to the 4H barn, sorta wedgin it in between the barn and the gasoline covered tinder factory next door. Afterwards, when he was interviewed by the paper and the police, he said sure, he'd seen all them flaming barrels layin around all over the place. And yeah, he'd heard on the radio that the whole dance was sold out and still people were showin up. It wasn't that surprisin, really. In my experience, people'll take any chance you give em to set a barrel on fire. So, yeah, he saw the barrels, but, like he said, he didn't think nothin of it because he was carryin a truck load of fire extinguishers for the factory anyway, so he figured he could just unload in the morning. As we learned later, reading the findings of the government investigators, them fire extinguishers he was carryin were all made in China. I guess product safety standards is pretty loose there because, in a bid to save three cents per extinguisher, they was fillin em with homemade napalm jelly. Brian, not knowin any of this, wanders into the dance, finds Peggy Lee, proposes, she starts cryin and says yes, then we all have ourselves a great time. Brian hits the sauce a little harder than he should and Peggy Lee gives him a ride to Chez Bigbritches in her car, leavin his delivery for the next day. At the end of the night, everyone agreed that the dance was a huge success and, doing so, we all went home, leavin the barrels to burn themselves out. Well, just at dawn, the sun just poked its little head over the horizon and hit Brian's mirrors. He had gotten right sick of people bein jerks on the road that he ordered these special mirrors that let him concentrate a glare into a driver's eyes, makin em back the heck off. The sun hit them mirrors and, instead of blindin some jerk with a comb over in a Porsche, they concentrated a beam of sunlight onto the tinder factory and set it right up. The volunteer fire department came in, saw the extinguishers and went right to work. Once the fire reached a hundred feet tall or so, the townspeople came to help out and they all started grabbin extinguishers, too. That fire climbs all the way to the heavens and burns so hot it starts suckin up all the other air in town. Brian's a good guy, though. He wasn't ready to be responsible for suffocating an entire town so he wrapped his tow chains around the factory, jumped in his truck and gunned it out to the rural roads, leavin a train of 50 foot high flame behind him. When he got far enough away, he threw the truck in neutral and jumped, relying only on luck and the training he got as a Hollywood stuntman to save him. He missed the factory hittin him in the head by mere inches. But he'd saved the town from suffocation and we all thanked him for it by throwin him and Peggy Lee the lavishest wedding you ever did see. The band was so big, it needed TWO washboard players. For the next couple of years, we used to go out at night and stare at the pillar of flame while contemplatin life's mysteries. We had to stop doin that when, in an effort to put the fire out, the National Guard came out and dropped a bomb on it. I ain't no scientist, so I don't know exactly what happened, but I think it reached some sorta fire critical mass or somethin and ended up collapsin into a black hole. For part of the time it was collapsin, it was still shootin giant gouts of flame into the air, sometimes scorchin passin airplanes.

And that's exactly what this new robot reminded me of; a black hole shootin fire. Unlike our black hole at home, though, this one punched me right in my robot suit. I never saw the fist coming. One moment I was there with my eyes crossin and uncrossin, wonderin what the odds are that there was a Bring Your Own Flaming Barrel dance on this world too, and the next moment, I was gettin thrown up and back out of the arena. In some kinda crazy robot acrobatic mumbojumbo, the whole robot suit did a double backflip in the air, landed on its feet and came up firin. Flamin chainsaw nun-chucks met flamin black hole and bounced harmlessly off. The Chainchuck-o-matic suit then went runnin full force straight at the black hole, transformin itself on the way. The cockpit was sucked into the belly of the new shape pretty quickly, so I didn't get to see what it was. From the roarin noise and jostlin motion, I figured it was prolly a chainsaw on spider legs or a robot bear. I never woulda guessed myself, but when you're trapped inside with no way to see, those two sound pretty much alike.

The plus side of bein inside the machine was that all the panels I had heretofore ignored lit up like a day-glo Christmas tree on fire and one of 'em said "Lemme Do the Fightin For Ya, Chuck", which I reckon is a right nice feature. The minus side is that, one one of those screens, I could see the other robot poundin at the outside of the robot I was in. There was a thermal display like you sometimes see on the news when they wanna see inside your house. From that I could see that the big flamin black hole I'd been fightin was really ninja shaped. Also, it had pulled out a ninja sword that I conservatively estimate was a bajillion feet long. He started aswingin that sword and my robot suit stopped movin. Also, it started shrieking like a banshee and flashin red inside the cabin.
I looked around at the screens and saw they all said "Y'all done screwed up now. Y'all had best get on out." I thought that may be good advice, what with a robot ninja comin after me and whatnot. Course, I didn't know how to follow the advice. I looked back up to the screens and saw they also all had an arrow at the bottom pointing to a big red button labeled "Git Up On Out". It seemed as good an idea as any, so I hit it.

For the umpteenth time that day, I found myself flyin through the air. This time, though, at a speed at which everything was blurrier than that time Douggy coated my windshield in Vaseline to keep the rain off. Goin that fast, you feel like your cheeks are sinkin down to flap against your belly. I swore that if it lasted any longer, I woulda gotten out of there wearin my beard as a belt. Fortunately for me, I stopped rocketin up before that happened. Sure, I woulda had myself a nice belt, but my face would been cold all the time and you'd prolly be able to see the tooth growin out of my chin, which is why I grew the beard in the first place.

There was a moment there, just after the rocketin and just before the parachute kicked in, that I felt entirely weightless. I was shieldin my eyes from the sun when I realized that it had been day this whole time. Then, I dropped back down. Floating on the parachute that unfolded from the back of the escape pod, I looked down onto the world that Platypus had built. The land was scarred and black in all directions. On every part of the horizon, you could see columns of black smoke reachin up to heaven and cloudin the sky with their filth. That's why there was no day here. Here and there throughout the land, there were piles of shiny things surrounded in what looked to be barbed wire or hurricane wire or some kinda wire you don't wanna touch. There was no city anywhere to speak of, just ramshackle huts and tents spread over the distance like the last peas left on a plate after an earthquake.

And then there were the explosions. Every five seconds or so, something blew up somewhere. Sometimes it was a small explosion, like a grenade or a doll filled with gasoline that had been lit on fire and thrown at a wall. Other times, and with surprising regularity, it was a much larger explosion, like you'd hear when a factory making timber covered with gasoline went up. As I looked around, I also noticed that, here and there, robots stalked the land, crushing houses, scattering piles and fighting each other. Followin my natural curious streak, I looked around to see if the ninja robot had followed me, and began to spot them everywhere. The patrolled the world like feral dogs, watching everything with a careful eye and destroying what I assume they found unpleasant.

With a soft thud, I landed back on solid earth. The pod I'd been in cracked down the middle and a man's voice echoed from the speaker, "Y'all have a nice day, now, hear?" Alone on this bleak world, there was only one thing I could do, I started walkin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, so Pat does have a beard! I wasn't sure whether that photo on the main page was meant to be a picture of Pat or of one of his ancestors.