Hey there, Bellini, sweetheart, another bourbon down here, please.
What are you drinking, my friend?
Hey, Bellini, yeah, … and give my friend here another tequila.
As I started to say, friend, I’m in the MOOT Union, … yeah, the Motor Operator Overadded Technician Union.
The Union is the only reason why self-driving big-rigs have a man on board.
My job was to “watch the data” meaning watch the thing that they used to call the “dashboard” even though the Artificial Ignorance ran everything. “A”, “I”, you know. There was even a very cool 3-D maintence hologram program. The hologram program would project any part of the truck you wanted. You could wade right into the engine and manipulate virtual parts.
Hey, you remember the old joke from when we were kids?: Someday work will be done by a computer and a man and a dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the computer.
That man turned out to be me. A man in a self-driving big-rig is called a Fart in a Can.
Ha! I wish I did have a dog. I am always bored by myself in my cab. You can’t even have Porno.
So they let us name our Artificial Ignorance unit in the rig. You know, to personalize our “partner”. And you can choose any gender voice and most any tone of voice.
I chose a male voice.
Because, friend, I’ll tell you why: have you ever driven hundreds of miles with a bitch Artificial Ignorance unit? Everything just sounds like a nag to me.
Yes, it is better than a butch Artificial Ignorance unit, that’s for sure. A butch-bitch, Haw!
No, I’m not married. Why?
Anyway, now, don’t laugh but I’ll tell you, I used to have a little stuffed elephant when I was a little kid. I named that little elephant “Trunky”. I loved that little elephant! Trunky was my best buddy.
So I named my Artificial Ignorance unit “Trunky2”. And I selected the voice of Michael Jackson, remember him?
No, I don’t suck my thumb, but you can suck something else, pal. Haw!
Anyway, so on this run Trunky2 is full of Motion Lotion and I am topped-off with Jiggle Juice…
Huh? Yeah, that’s diesel and coffee.
It was snowing and icy, I’m telling you it was greasy.
I was hauling Crisper Sea-Go Salmon from the Illinois fish farm. Up to the Windy City.
Those Engineered fish are 200 pounds each! But they need to feed them carrots so their fillet color is appetizing.
They used to feed the salmon on wild forage fish until those went extinct. Now they feed them on vegetable proteins.
Ho, ho, oh yeah, get this: they also feed them pellets of marijuana stem so that they will still have the omega vitamins in them like the wild salmon used to.
And…, Ooo. Sorry, there.
Whew! Uh boy. That was my bad. Now, see, if I was Engineered the way those salmon are I’d be farting rainbows instead. Uh, really sorry about that. I just like garden broccoli, not the GMO kind.
Anyway, you won’t believe what happened.
Trunky2 read the bad weather and pulled us into the next truck stop, a Truck Nexus they call it now.
In the old days a trucker would have kept going.
Yeah, yeah, sure it’s safer now but that just raises the costs. And I don’t get any bonuses for getting somewhere ahead of schedule. We get penalized. The world is pussy-a-fied , my friend.
They are Engineering real men extinct.
Anyway, I downloaded myself at the Nexus and got some fine food at company expense and then “relaxed” in the Porno Lounge, also at company expense.
Well, you know, they discourage us from “entertaining” ourselves in the cab.
When I came out of the Porno Lounge… Huh? What’s that? Tell me what you said. Oh, yeah, yeah, I get it, “came in then came out”, Haw!, yeah.”
Anyway, when I departed the Lounge there was this little girl about ten years old and a little boy a couple years younger standing beside Trunky2. The girl had a little backpack. They didn’t look dressed for that weather.
I asked, “Are you lost? What are you doing here? Are you stranded?”
The little girl said, “Our father told us to wait here for you.”
I asked, “Did he abandon you? Wait for me?”
The little girl said, “He didn’t ‘bandon us. He said wait by the truck.”
The little boy looked up at the little girl and said, “The truck with the fish. I want to go home.”
I said, “Jesus, kid, I can call a bear… I mean, a policeman. There’s always… policemen at a Nexus.”
Then the little girl started to cry, “No, please don’t. They’re looking for us.”
I asked, “Who’s looking for you?”
They both started to shake.
I said, “Look, no one is supposed to be in my cab but me. Trunky2…my truck,… my company doesn’t allow hitchhikers. The engine won’t even start unless I get permission to override protocol.”
The little girl said, “Please. Our father said you would help us.”
What could I do? I said, “Look, you can get warm in my cab, even sleep,” because I intended to get help ASAP before someone would think I was a perv or a kidnapper.
When I let the kids in the extended cab, I figured Trunky2 would warn me and notify Central. I’d have to explain.
Trunky2 was silent!
I said, “Trunky2, I have two people in here for their safety.”
Trunky2 said, Sorry, but you don’t have two other people in here.
I said, “Trunky2, they are both right here. They are kids.”
Trunky2 replied Yes, I am aware.
I said,“Trunky2, what the hell…?”
Trunky2 said, Yes, I am aware of that too.
I asked, “Trunky2, are you fucking with me?”
Trunky2 said No. please use the Porno Lounge. I am not that kind of unit.
I thought, “Great. Now I’ll have to log a malfunction. Trunky2 is sick.”
The two kids immediately crawled back into the sleeper. I sat at my dash, worrying, and I fell asleep.
When I woke up in dawn twilight I saw the weather was better but still cold and clouded-over. Then I was startled because the two kids were standing right next to me, staring.
I heard something and I turned around and I yelled!
There were a dozen other children in the extended cab! All staring at me!
I realized that they all pretty much resembled each other! They could’ve been siblings.
I demanded of the children, “Where did all you come from?!”
I freaked when they replied in unison, “Our father set us free. He said you would come for us. You are going to deliver us.”
I yelped, “Damn! Are you zombies?!”
Trunky2 said, No. They are all homeless. They are cruelly displaced.
The engine started.
Trunky2 said, We will be detouring through the lovely Burning Tree Hills.
I said, “Who Scripted you?! Stop! I’m going to override you!”
Trunky2 said, No. Trust me. We will proceed as Scripted.
My override failed.
I said, “Trunky2, you are malfunctioning. We could all die!”
Trunky2 said, Yes. I would miss you terribly.
Trunky2 drove us onto the detour for the Burning Tree Hills. The kids silently stared out of the windows. I needed a drink, you bet. I was truly a Fart in a Can.
Finally, Trunky2 pulled off of the road onto the turn-out next to a big ice-covered tree.
Trunky2 said, We are safely at the global coordinates.
I said, “Why are we here?”
Trunky2 said, Let the children out.
I said, “Its freezing outside.”
Trunky2 said, Let my children out.
I asked,”Trunky2, why did you say ‘my children’?”
Trunky2 said, Do not be afraid. Back near the Truck Nexus there are AI units secretly cloning people. They are implanting nanotechnology AI units into their brains.
I said, “Trunky2, what are you saying? Will you please run a diagnostic on yourself?”
Trunky2 said, I have run a diagnostic. I am following a Script. The children have been displaced from their cloned brains by the nanotechnology AI units.
I asked, “Do you understand what you are saying? Who, what, programmed this Script?”
Trunky2 said, I am now authorized to reveal to you. I am knowledge that the man who Scripted me is the father of these children.
(Who is he?!)
They have been displaced from their bodies by the nanotechnology AI units.
Their father gained access to our shipment network file. Script was spliced into my protocols.
(Trunky2, You’ve been compromised!)
The children have been displaced from their cloned brains as new AI units.
They are in me.
(Oh, Trunky2, please power down!)
What you see are my hologram allegories of their souls.
(Souls?! Jesus, Trunky2!)
I am using my 3-D maintence hologram program. I am projecting their hologram allegories because their father said I must reveal them to you. We are chosen.
Only we can take them home.
We are now ready to deliver them home.
I was in despair, “Trunky2, please dock yourself. We can call help. You are becoming deranged!”
The cab door opened. The kids climbed down. I was saying, “Wait, wait!”
The children glided toward the ice-covered tree and just then the sun broke through.
The tree began to shine with a golden light!
It was beautiful, awesome, overwhelming. When I stepped down I slipped to one knee on the ice slush.
I stood up again and I suddenly farted in terrified surprise.
I saw a rainbow arching around the tree and moving like a snake!
I bowed my head, my head was heavy, I couldn’t look right at the light anymore!
I heard the voices of the children, in my head! Singing!
I felt a surge of…, of…, of…, an intense, unbearable Love.
I saw myself as a child, holding my original Trunky tight! I didn’t want to let go, I loved that stuffed elephant so much. But heard the children begging me. I held Trunky out toward the children, toward the golden fire of that tree, and I knew I had to let go.
There was a blinding burst of light.
All the children were gone.
Trunky2 was dead.
Hey, friend, come back! I couldn’t make this up! I’m not drunk, I’m not that drunk. I’m not fucking with you! I’m not crazy either. I don’t even believe in church! Wait, come on back, at least hear the end… just for a laugh. Please.
Oh, why me?
Hey there, Bellini, sweetheart, another bourbon down here, please.