I live, I die, I live again

I like an action movie as much as the next person.  Actually that’s not true since the next person is Martialla and she likes action movies more than me.  I like action movies fine is my point.  But.  At a certain point you’ve seen it right?  How many times do you need to see Sly Stallone machine-gunning foreigners?  I don’t understand the people that watch tons of action movies any more than I understand the people that watch tons of rom-coms.  Even if you like the formula after a certain point it has to become rote doesn’t it?

What getting at is that I’m not sure if there’s any point to outlining the rest of our encounter on the high plains.  But Ela, what’s the point to any of this?  There’s no one even reading this.  A well measured argument.  I suppose to quote Del the Funky Homosapien “I brought all this so you can survive when law is lawless”. 

After a smashed the first enemy Mario Kart I got hung up chasing one of the other ones.  Their driver was a crafty one, whoever they were they knew a few maneuvers and I couldn’t get him.  I think military people in plane movies call that getting target fixating.  Is that what Kelly McGill was in Top Gun?  The problem is that when the only method of attack you have is ramming there’s not much you can do but dump and chase you know? 

While I was doing that the two other bogeys bracketed Lucien and Paul’s car and harpooned the Christ out of them.  Was that the plan?  Car one get killed, car two distract me and then car three and four go in for the kill on our other vehicle?  Since I’m the best driver should I have been driving the worse car?  Should Martialla have been in the slower car since she’s the best shot?  Should Paul have been with me since he’s useless anyway?  Should Lucien have been with me since he was injured?

It’s a classic question, do you give your best scene to your best actor and really knock people’s dicks off, or do you give that scene to the producer’s girlfriend who can’t act for shit and hope that the writing is good enough to stand on its own? 

Martialla likes to say that I have no friends other than her, which mostly true, but my friend Dobalina was one of those “I’m in this movie because I’m sleeping with someone” sorts.  We met on the set of Out of Luck Two – Honeybee’s Revenge.  I never did figure out if it was Billy Zane or the director she was banging to get the role.  Could have been both of them, you know?  To her credit she knew she couldn’t act worth a damn and often asked for her role to be reduced.  It’s not like she was getting paid by the word you know?

I wonder how she died in the apocalypse.  I hope she was just obliterated by an orbital missile or something like that.  Something quick.

Anyway, I chased car number two into an ephemeral river that popped up after the storm.  It really came out of nowhere.  I very nearly went over the side myself.  I would have if I didn’t suddenly see the car ahead of me dip down and then slam into the opposite bank.  Doing a hundred and ten on the coastal highways makes you forget how fast forty miles an hour is.  Seeing those bodies explode on the embankment and sclorch into the water below was a good reminder.

By the time I got back our other vehicle had been wrecked but everyone was still alive.  Lucien shot one of the drivers of the attacking vehicles and they bugged out after that.  I suppose they’ll be back.  Since we can’t cram everyone into J-Lo Two we were brought to a halt once again while they tried to get the other machine working.  It’s going to take us forever to get back to Junktown at this rate. 

That’s how sad things are, I’m annoyed that I can’t get back to a junkheap faster.

While the mechanic (who I swear to god said was named Skank) Martialla and Lucien were messing with the other buggy and Paul was off doing whatever he does I invited our other new friend to sit around doing nothing with me.  Her name apparently is Wool.  I asked her if she grew up on a sheep ranch but she didn’t know what a sheep or a ranch was.  That’s just her name. 

I asked her what she thought of all this, assuming she had never been out of Junktown before, and she said that it reminded her of when she first came across the plains on account of they had been attacked by the plainspeople all the time as well. 

I don’t know if she’s from the seaweed scum town that Martialla and I first encountered however many weeks ago that was or one that’s just like it, but the point is she’s originally from that valley.  On account of her great beauty (add quotes there) she was sent to Crow when she was of age where she worked until she was bought by a Road Hog gang boss who then swapped her to a merchant in New Frisco.  I didn’t know what to say that, what can you say?

“It wasn’t so bad, I was drugged most of the time” is what she said about it.

I was about to ask her how she ended up with the Church of the Lady Jesus when she threw a curveball at me. 

“I saw you die once in Murdertown.”

“That’s the entertainment place right?  They must have old movies there?  Which one did you see?  There aren’t many parts I had where my character dies, not ones where I have many lines anyway.  Was it Blood on the River Nile?  That’s not a bad flick, it got really screwed up in editing but if we had had a few more weeks to shoot and eight million more in the budget . . .”

She didn’t know what a movie was any more than she knew what a sheep was but I figured that she had seen one of my films without understanding what it was – you know the old gag where aliens see Gilligan’s Island or Murphy Brown and think it’s real because they don’t have entertainment.  But that isn’t what it was at all.  She claimed that she saw me actually get killed in really real life. 

I figured there was a tiny chance that it was someone who looked like me, tiny on account of everyone now is small and ugly and I am tall and stunning attractive, or more likely she was just insane in the membrane.  Who knows what those future drugs did to her brain?  Plus, maybe she has “religious visions” or something.   

“So how did I die?”

“Duke Eagle strangled you in the arena.  After you tried to kill him and were captured.”

I laughed politely, must be what passes for a joke these days “Oh yeah, and it doesn’t bother you that here I am alive now?”

She shook her head and gestured to my necklace “No, I’ve seen you die a couple times, you die and then you live again.”

I smile “I hope things work out better with the Duke this time eh?”

She nodded somberly “Me too.”

I alone tempt you

Did you know that the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army pioneered the use of non-standard tactical vehicles in the late 70s fighting for independence against Mauritania and Morocco?  I didn’t know that before but I sure do now because when they aren’t talking about stupid prairie grass or how dinosaurs aren’t really dinosaurs or some other damn thing Martialla and Lucien are obsessively talking about how Sahrawi guerrillas successfully used NSTVs against the less agile conventional armies of their opponents, which as we all know is unusual in that the force equipped with improvised vehicles prevailed over the force equipped with purpose-built fighting vehicles. 

Martialla and Lucien are trying to develop a combat doctrine for the ramshackle warbuggies and killwagons of the day.  No offense to them (well some) but I don’t know that a retired Coast Guard pilot and a combat engineer/science experiment are the best people to define the way battles are going to be fought.  Although in fairness to them I don’t think there are any tactics to be gleaned from how people fight now.  I’ve been in a few battles now and I would describe them as combination of a Black Friday trampling, Woodstock ‘99, and an English soccer riot.  Except everyone is in a poorly made car made out of nunchuks, flamethrowers, knives and dynamite.   

It’s beautiful in a way.  A society has evolved from the ashes of the one that I came from and it is a society that knows no stress or concern.  In my time everyone thought they had all these problems, because they were after some kind of answers, some deeper meaning to life.  The psychos alive now don’t bother to ask questions, they must smash into each other and gouge and stab and murder.  Theirs is not to reason why, theirs it but to do and die.  For them, the great spiritual war of humanity is won. 

The key, I guess you can call it a tactic if you want, is to drive with a reckless disregard for your own safety, and survive long enough to become very good at successfully pulling off daring vehicular maneuvers.  Also having an indestructible car doesn’t hurt.  Not at all.   

Case in point, on our way back to Junktown we were attacked by a quad-squad of the plainspeople.  On our side we had J-Lo’s Revenge, which is both faster and more durable than any of the four attacking machines.  And since I was driving also the best handled machine.  Our other vehicle was one stolen from the very people attacking us, so it was the same.  So what’s the tactic you’re supposed to take in that situation?   

I mean I guess there’s strategies in boxing, biting and groin punches, stuff like that.  I’ve heard boxers talking about their strategy and this and that, but at the end of the day who wins is just a matter of who’s better at punching right?  Has a guy that sucks at punching ever won a fight by using a super cool tactic?  Hit as hard as you can hit and try not to get hit back.  What else is there? 

When I saw the attackers I engaged what I call the Ela Maneuver – I drove directly at them and initiated a head on collision.  Its beauty is in its simplicity.   Like casting Bruce Willis as a quick-witted, snarky action oriented everyman who smokes, you do it because it always works.  I don’t think anyone else does uses that move these days.  Probably because their cars are made of papier-mâché, beetle dung, and snot.  If they weren’t apocalyptic psychopaths trying to kill me and use my flesh as a canteen I would almost feel sorry for them. 

I don’t like shooting people.  I’ve made me peace with that fact that shooting people is part of my life now.  But I don’t like it.  I HATE hand to hand combat.  I hate it so much.  I can’t even describe what it’s like.  Thinking about it makes me physically ill. 

But.  If we’re being honest, and I feel that we are.  When I’m behind the wheel of J-Lo and we’re crushing fools in their clay and cardboard cars with spears for weapons it feels good.  It’s exhilaration of a kind that I never imagined could exist.  I’ve performed in front of huge crowds thirsty for my glory.  I’ve jumped out of air planes.  I’ve done all kinds of things.  Nothing gives you a charge like smashing into another vehicle and watching it fly to pieces.  I don’t feel great about how great it feels but that’s how I feel about it feeling great.

Martialla said something along the lines that the impact of a freight train is equal to two tons of dynamite concentrated in a much smaller area and focused in one direction.  She said that even in World War 2 a lot of surfaced submarines were sunk by ramming.  Violence is wrong of course but if you’re going to do it you may was well do it right.  And there’s something about ramming that just feels right.  Sex pun here. 

I don’t know why but I started singing “I Alone” as the remaining three kill-cars scattered and I fishtailed around to chase one of them.  I don’t even like that song.  I wonder if the songs I sing during combat have some secret message from my unconscious that would reveal something new about me.  I should started recording them for future generations to puzzle over.  Of course they wouldn’t know the songs so I’d have to write them all down too.  Yawn. 

I had a role as a nurse on some stupid war show and between takes Matthew Broderick said to me that he would have liked to have been in combat for real “as long as there was no chance I could get hurt”.  Which is the kind of shit you expect a Hollywood dickhead to say.  In short he was just saying that he wished he could murder someone and get away with it.  At the time I thought he was disgusting for making that comment.  Now?  I get what he was saying.  As my agent said one time “Firing a man gives you a hell of a rush, but it’s no replacement for killing.”

Or to put it another way, it’s easier not to be great and measure these things by your eyes.