They headed south from Callaway, retracing their, (or at least Mike’s!), steps back towards Hamilton, then Waverly Hall, then Roberta, then on to Macon.
Peal prattled on and on for most of the drive about a “vision of the future” he had a few nights ago. Mike was still too shaken to say much, so Peal’s narrative was mostly uninterrupted.
He spoke of a time when technology had advanced to the point of being capable of neutralizing nuclear weapons, (“a black hole chain reactor reversin’ event”, or something like that), but that other, even more destructive weapons had arisen to replace the now neutered nukes. The world was divided between two competing empires, and stayed in balance as long as the supreme leader of both empires remained sane. But inevitably the worst case scenario occurred, and one of the supreme leaders went completely bonkers.
“Like Kim Jong-il?”, Mike asked.
“No, no, no …. much worse than the current looney over there, Kim Jong-un.”, replied Peal. “Maybe more like Saloth Sar of Cambodia.”
“The sick bastard who became Pol Pot.”
So now the fate of the world rested in the hands of a man who had become self-destructively insane.
“Lovely. What was this idiot’s name?”, asked Mike.
“Hell I don’t know, ” said Peal. “Let’s just call the old boy Freddy.”
Freddy began to make increasingly ridiculous demands of the other supreme leader and his empire, which if not executed to his satisfaction would immediately lead to all out war, which in turn would lead to the elimination of the human race, if not all advanced life forms on earth.
It was apparent, back in the empire with the leader who was still sane, that the only means of salvation for the planet lay in the elimination of crazy Freddy. But how best to accomplish this?
Assassination of a supreme leader was very, very difficult, because these men knew that their lives were always in danger, and so employed the latest and greatest in technology to keep themselves safe. Access to a leader was extremely limited, and even when granted, the leader sat in an isolated booth with its own oxygen supply, surrounded by extremely durable bullet proof glass. On a daily basis he mostly interacted with his obedient robots, who were stronger and quicker than any human assailant, and seemingly incapable of being disloyal to him. But for the human race to survive, one of the leaders had to be killed.
Back in the days when it was first noticed that something was going wrong with Freddy’s mind, even some of his ministers and generals began to plot his demise, as the prospect of an all out war caused by a madman was so atrocious. Poisons and virulent diseases were smuggled into Freddy’s chambers, but the lucky bastard always survived, becoming a bit more unhinged with each failed assassination attempt. The robots surrounding and protecting him grew stronger and smarter too, seemingly anticipating the elimination of the human race, allowing their ascendency into the dominant “life form” on earth.
“Robots aren’t strictly alive,” Mike added.
“Yeah, I know, ya got point there,” Peal replied. “That’s their superficial strength, but also their greatest weakness. Like a guy’s nuts. It makes us logical and less sentimental and weakly emotional and all that silly girl stuff, but just give us slight tap there, and we’re on the ground gasping and cryin’ for our Mama.”
“Robots don’t have balls! They don’t even reproduce!”
“No, thank God, but they are logical, even way more logical than you, Mr. Computer Boy. But not being alive, they don’t have the “drive”, the “need” to do anything. Logic can explain, but not motivate.”
So it was decided to attack Freddy at his weakest point: his robot bodyguard’s lack of emotion. If they could devise a plan that would, to the robots at least, be in Freddy’s best interest, then maybe they could actually get the robots to unwittingly help them eliminate this menace.
What they came up with was simple: entomb Freddy in a vault for his “own protection”. The vault would contain food and water and medicine and other essentials to sustain his life for at least another 200 years, far beyond his expected life span. He would be safe from assassins in there forever.
The vault was built to be impervious to any outside attacks, completely resistant to radiation and other contaminants, and on a floating base to enable it to withstand earthquakes. In order to protect him from whatever new means of attack would be developed in the future, (brain waves?), all contact with the outside world was to be cut off. Freddy would reign supreme and unchallenged in his virtual void.
How this was presented to the robot bodyguards was unclear, but it was done in such a “logical” manner that they agreed to have Freddy placed inside. His behavior was becoming more erratic with each passing day, and at times it appeared he would break down and begin armageddon before the vault was complete, but with lots of hard work and a little bit of generosity from whatever ultimate powers may be, the vault was finally completed, and Freddy placed inside.
And so the human race lived to see another day, and another, and another, and many, many, many more after that. Sure, there were a few flare ups with a few of his generals, and a city here and there in both empires was reduced to dust, but overall humanity came through splendidly.
“‘Cause it just goes to show ya,” said Peal, “that sometimes containing an evil is enough. Ya don’t have to completely eradicate it. In fact, ya never will eradicate evil. Satan’s always got one thing or another up his sleeve.”
“That’s a nice story and all,” said Mike, “but don’t you think it kinda sucks if you were one of the citizens of the vaporized cities?”
“Yeah, I know”, Peal replied. “It ain’t fair, but shit happens.”
That’s probably the best thing this old Peal character ever said. Don’t I know that life ain’t fair! Ya look all over, find the most beautiful, perfect girl in the world, and she dumps ya for some jackass in Mauk, armpit city of the world. Freddy, what a dick! Oh, so he was on the Alabama football team? Whippy ding dong! I bet he’s got a tiny penis and shriveled up balls from steroid abuse. And what is he anyway, some account manager for the sand pits? Oh, I bet that pays REAL well, huh? He may in fact be the only guy in Georgia I actually make more money than.
Lee Ann would never dump a guy for money anyway.