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RECAP Joe found himself in the middle of a nuclear apocalypse caused by AI robots. He has a plan to wipe out Earth’s new robotic overlords by using a virus, but first he and his friend, Sanjay, have to survive the journey. And things were looking grim as they raced towards a wall of drones blocking the road in front of them.



When It Rains, It Pours

by Joe Gillis




There we were, staring down dozens of drones blocking every drivable spot across the road. It looked like there was nowhere to go but through them.

"Oh man, things are not looking good for us," I murmured as Sanjay maneuvered between the cars that littered the road. But then I saw a way out. “Do you see that?”

“I do. Now hold on tight!”

Sanjay weaved to the left, where there was a bunch of wreckage that made something that looked like a makeshift launch ramp—and that’s exactly how he used it.

The drones opened fire on us as we launched over them like we were in the General Lee. Sanjay must have been thinking the same thing because he hit the horn and the Dixie melody from The Dukes of Hazzard blared out as we shot over them. And just like the Dukes, we hit the ground and kept on moving.

“You cut that one pretty close there, hoss,” I said with a southern accent.

He smiled. “I installed that horn just for you.”

“Good choice, Reese.”

“Thanks, Sarah,” we both laughed as he continued to show off his skills, somehow keeping us alive.

“So check this out, man. Rumor has it that a couple of guys working on The Dukes of Hazzard heard a car driving by when it blasted out the icon horn song. You know, they knew they wanted it the moment they heard it, so they chased down the car and bought it off the guy for like $300.”

“We’re in a life and death situation and that’s what you’re thinking about?”

“Hey, you can’t install a horn like that and not expect me to say anything. I mean, come on, you know me better than that?”

“Fair enough. I wonder what those drones were thinking as we flew over them.”

“They probably searched their databases and discovered the same info I just threw down. That and chances are good that they were trying to wrap their AI around how you made this car fly.”

“Uh, they won’t find that in any database.” Sanjay smirked.

“Yeah, you got that right. Especially after they discover that the show went through one or two cars an episode because of jumps like that one.”

Sanjay gave me a look that spoke loudly: ‘Really? Now is not the time.’

“What? Come on, you know me, man. I can’t let this knowledge go to waste.”

He just shook his head.

“Yeah, just so you know, they probably think we’re racist, too.”


“Dude, I’m surprised nobody told you when you were picking your horn for this beast.”

“Uh, what do you mean?”

“That song has a racist origin, you know, just like the ice cream truck jingle.” I dropped that little nugget to help Sanjay not feel so racist.

“Come on, really? And the ice cream man song, too? Man, my Indian grandmother is driving around in her ice cream truck with that song blaring.”

“Dude, your grandma’s a racist,” I joked.

“My Nana is no such thing—and you shouldn’t joke about that.” He was almost serious.

“Okay. Okay. I know, I know. I don’t think most of us think of that song in that way. Heck, I never saw either of those songs in that way because they were tied to positive things in my life—you know, like The Dukes of Hazzard, and of course, the freakin' ice cream man—”

Sanjay cut me off. “Or woman.”

“Okay, or woman,’” I gestured with my hand to signify the correction as I nodded in agreement. “Yeah, it sort of sucks, but some things we just have to let go of.”

“Dude! Why didn’t you throw that knowledge down before I installed the horn?”

“Hey, at least you didn’t paint a Confederate flag on the roof, you know.” I laughed.

“Dude, come on, give me some credit.” He rolled his eyes.

“You know, in all fairness, I think everyone on The Dukes of Hazzard just saw the General Lee as a symbol of a rebellion spirit, and not anything about race. I’m sure in hindsight they’re wishing they would have picked the Alliance Starbird from Star Wars or something like that to paint on the roof.”

“Dude, that would have gone great with the orange car.” Yeah, Sanjay was finally caught up in my madness.

“Exactly! And how cool would it have sounded to have the Rebel Alliance fanfare blasting as you’re flying through the air in the Red One!”

“Wouldn’t it be Orange One?”

“No way! Luke was the leader of the Red Squadron, and there was a Luke in The Dukes of Hazzard, so I’m sticking with Red One.”

“Dude, how do you even think of this stuff while we’re in the middle of us trying to fight for our lives?”

“Man, this stuff just comes to me without thinking about it.” I shrugged.

“You have one strange mind there, Joe.”

“Yeah, but it’s gotten me this far. Speaking of which, there’s the town, which is, of course—”

He then finished what I was about to say: “Overrun by robots.”

We both could see that not only were there drones patrolling the skies, but there were tanks guarding the streets—not to mention the humanoid Tin Cans policing the streets with them. I knew this was definitely going to pose some problems.

“Uh, I don’t think we’ll last long driving on the streets.”

“Any ideas?”

I searched around and spotted one. “I say we drive into that cornfield and park. I think we’ll have a better chance if we head into town on foot.”


He did just that, and we found ourselves wandering through the cornfield. It wasn't built as a labyrinth of any kind, but that's how it feels when you're stuck in a space with tall stalks of corn encircling you while you try to find your way out. Even though the corn husks should have provided us with good cover, we both continued to crouch down as we traveled toward the town. I guess our bodies instinctively knew it was better to be on the safe side—not to mention we had no weapons to defend ourselves.

Once we reached the edge of the cornfield, we stopped to assess our options, keeping our voices down to a whisper.

“Hey, I can see the gun store from here,” I pointed to the store that had a convenient alcove that would provide a slight hiding spot once we got there. “But there’s a whole lot of the Tin Cans circling around.”

“Yes, but they’re basically computer programming that can learn, right?” I could see the hamster wheel turning in Sanjay’s mind.

“Uh, yeah.”

“Maybe there’s a pattern to the patrol? And if nobody has tried to do what we’re doing, they haven’t used their AI to adapt to what we’re about to do.” Sanjay had a point.

“I don’t think we have any other options, so I hope you’re right.”

Sanjay was onto something. As we watched, a pattern emerged.

“You see that?” He asked.

“Yep. We have 8 seconds to get behind that car. Hold there for a 5 count, then we have 9 seconds to make our way behind the van near the gun shop, hold for 3, and then the store.” Boy, this was going to be close.

“Dude, what if it’s locked? We have only 7 seconds to get from behind the van and be in the store,” Sanjay figured.

“Why do you even have to throw that out into the universe? If it’s unlocked, really?”

“Hey, I’m a numbers guy, and the odds are very good that it’s locked.”

“What if we blow something up to create a distraction?”

“I think you’ve watched too many movies, Joe.”

“You say it like it’s a bad thing.”

“Think about it. That would buy us time to get in; however. it would hurt our odds of getting out alive.”

“I’d like to make it out alive.”

“Me, too.”

“Well, Sanjay, my friend,” I said as I patted him on his back. “You know, I guess I’m glad we’re both on the same page there.”

“For sure.”

“What about breaking the window?”

“Even if they didn’t hear it, I’m sure their programming would notice an anomaly like the window missing, and thus they’d find us while we were still in the store.” I knew Sanjay was right.

“You have no good news for me, do you?”

“I came up with the whole pattern idea, so I’d say my batting average is a little higher than yours.” He smiled.

“And you did jump a bunch of drones in a pretty epic way. Okay, what if one of us heads into the gun store and the other takes the car and creates a distraction?”

“That seems like a bad idea for the guy who has to drive—which I presume is me, since I’m a pretty amazing driver.” He said the last part with a massive grin on his face.


“I’d like to veto any idea that leads to my death,” Sanjay decided before I could throw in my vote.

“Fine. Just so you know, I had faith that you would have lived,” I shrugged.

“That’s nice, but I’m not so sure that the robots would agree.” He nodded in their direction.

“Maybe we’re overthinking this whole thing. I say we give it a try. If it is locked, we’ll figure out plan B while hiding underneath that van.”

“Dude, I’m not sure I like your plan.”

“Do you have a better one?”

“No.” Sanjay conceded.

“Then my plan it is.”

We waited until they cycled through again.

“Go,” I called out and we both bolted to the car while counting. “One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, four-one-thousand, five-one-thousand...”

We made it, crouching down with our backs to the trunk. We went through the remainder of our 8 count and then our 5 count before rushing to our next location.

“Go,” I said as we switched over again. “One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand…”

And that’s when Sanjay tripped.


©2023 Joe Gillis, All Rights Reserved.




Ah, snap! Things aren’t looking good for Sanjay, but on a positive note, who knew a Camaro could fly, right? Too bad Sanjay can’t. Do you think they’ll make it out alive? Let me know in the comments.

Okay, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There was another punk reference in this one hidden away. They only have 7 seconds to get from behind the van and inside the store. Did you catch it? Well, I am a big fan of the punk band 7 Seconds, so I made a point to have that be one of the timeframes. Kevin eat your heart out! And no, I’m not going to retire that saying, even though I have to agree with Sanjay, it is a little gross.

Also, give a shout out for The Dukes of Hazzard if you’re a fan.

See you on the flip side!















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