“Death Truck”: A movie script parody featuring Clown World and free delivery; Part 1

— Written by Quizzer —
“What could possibly go wrong?” – Clown World Proverb, c. 2019

Death Truck is scheduled to appear over 3 days – Links once posted

Read Part 2
Read Part 3

—- “Death Truck” first appeared at tempestinateardrop.com —-

The Elevator Pitch

It’s late 2020. Driverless AI freight trucks have been beta-tested on US highways for nearly a year. Stealing from them in novel and dangerous ways is all the rage. Free shipping has never been more expensive. Then Mobile Fortress steps up with an innovative solution: a fully-armored and automated truck with active anti-theft devices. A new era in free shipping dawns.

[Script by Paul Dubrow (Dub) & Eli Fisher (Fish)]

Scene I – Opening Credits

[Setting] The Mobile Fortress R&D building with a giant test track/parking lot spanning the horizon around it. An 18-wheeler drives across the blacktop in the distance. Heat emanating from the pavement and camera magic obscure its details. Cue catchy opening credits music.

[Cut] Reverse camera/pan down to reveal the R&D building (sign reads “Mobile Fortress Test Track, Redwood City, California”), a three-story glass box with solar power panels and decorative palm trees. Three acres of lawn surround it, crisscrossed with concrete SegwayTM paths. CEO and aspiring tech oligarch Levi Maddox stands out front; three-hundred feet from the vehicle bay doors. Levi sports casual khaki multi-pocketed pants, a casual white button-down shirt, perfectly round sunglasses, and the unique beard/man-bun combo currently popular with the smartest Silicon Valley engineers.

[Cut] As the opening credits wrap and the catchy music fades, a beautiful blonde wearing an inappropriately short skirt, lab coat, and clip board approaches. That’s the way Levi Maddox is: Manly, sensitive, and aware of how difficult life is for women with the hottest STEM degrees.

[Cut] The tractor-trailer approaches the pair head-on in the distance. The camera shot has the actors’ heads & shoulders in the foreground with the truck in the center: The audience is seeing what they are seeing. Heat waves still obscure its details.

Maddox: “I see that beta testing of the H1B Armored Truck is wrapping up. Well done, Mackenzie.”

Mackenzie: “Thank you, Mr. Maddox.”

[Cut] The H1B Armored Truck roars closer. It isn’t slowing down. Mackenzie begins to lean away from its path and shifts sideways. Maddox remains perfectly still, and glares at her.

[Cut] Camera moves down with its focus on the truck. Pavement anchors the bottom of the shot with the actors in the foreground. Mackenzie once again stands rigid, legs slightly apart. The H1B Armored Truck screeches to a halt, stopping inches from the pair. We finally get a clear view of it. The semi truck is covered in armored plating – held together by pointy rivets – that covers the cab, cargo container, gas tanks, and undercarriage. Two sensor arrays obscured by tinted high-impact plastic sit on the windshield. Someone has painted a lopsided swish on the grill. Slightly curved and  extremely sharp metal spikes stick out from the front bumper and line both sides of the freight trailer along the top and bottom.

Good luck robbing this one, daring and novel thieves.

[Cut] Maddox and Mackenzie look at each other in front of the H1B.

Maddox: “Perfect. You’re a real credit to women in STEM fields.”

Mackenzie: “Thank you, sir. You know, I have two separate but related degrees.”

Maddox: “I’m aware. I admire both.”

The H1B Armored Truck with Special Anti-Theft Devices activates its rear flamethrowers. [Cut] to side view of truck. Dual flame jets shoot twenty-five feet behind it.

[Cut] Maddox and Mackenzie, close-up on their faces.

Mackenzie: “I’ll have the boys in the lab look at that.”

Maddox: “You’d better hurry. The President just made an online order and he chose free shipping. The cargo will arrive in 90 minutes and the H1B needs to leave this facility and travel across the country to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.”

Mackenzie: “Directly to the White House, sir?”

Maddox: “Yes. We plan full 24/7 media coverage as a new era of automated, secure, shipping arrives. The consumers of the free-est country in the world: America, will finally get what they deserve.”

[Cut] Levi Maddox and STEM wonder-babe Mackenzie turn and walk toward the vehicle bay doors. Maddox pulls a small bottle of Italian Sparkling Mineral Water from his pocket and attempts to pry the cap off. It’s not easy. The company has recently childproofed the caps to prevent customers from drooling into the bottles and placing them back on the shelves.

[Cut] Mackenzie watches in awe as Maddox produces a high-tech plastic bottle-opening wrench from another pocket, pops the top, and takes a sip. Levi Maddox is prepared for worst-case scenarios. He could have literally anything in his khakis.

Cue foreshadowy-ready-for-disaster outro music.

Scene II – The Oval Office in the White (not racist) House

[Cut] The President has just been overwhelmingly re-elected by the people of America. The Vice President, Mike Pence, looks over Donald Trump’s shoulder with a steely gaze.

Trump: “Are you sure they deserve a full pardon, Mike?”

Mike Pence looks up and we [cut] to the couch across from the President’s desk. Jared and Ivanka sit stiffly upon it. They give a Stepford-like, simultaneous nod.

Pence: “Yes, sir.”

Trump: “Very well. Giblet and Snood: Enjoy your new home at the Hormel Free-Range Turkey Processing Farm in the great state of Minnesota.”

[Cut] Trump signs the official pardon for the two turkeys, pictured and labeled ‘Giblet’ and ‘Snood’.

Trump: “You’ll be joining us for Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, Mike-? I’ve been assured that two of the fattest turkeys that ever lived will be in attendance.”

Mike Pence looks up and we [cut] to the couch across from the President’s desk. Jared and Ivanka haven’t moved. They give another stiff, simultaneous nod.

Pence: “Yes, sir. I’m eager to eat Fauxcahontas and Buttergig.” (Slight pause) “I mean meet.”

Trump: “Good. I’ve just ordered our after-dinner entertainment online. Couldn’t resist the free shipping. The company guaranteed it would be delivered on time, even though it’s in Silicon Valley, California.”

Pence: “We have the most innovative technology oligarchs in the world, Mr. President.”

Trump: “Yes. The consumers of our   vibrant economy truly deserve them.”

Scene III – Cargo Pickup and Open-Road Freedom

[Cut] The Mobile Fortress Test Track facility. The H1B Armored Truck idles restlessly. A forklift pulls away from the rear and technicians close the freight doors. We can’t see the cargo. Cue ominous music.

[Cut] The H1B pulls out of the facility and merges flawlessly into Silicon Valley traffic. Cue more ominous music.

[Cut] The H1B moves up the on-ramp, and flawlessly merges onto the open-beta highways of America. Cue open-road patriotic-freedom with ominous-undertones music.

Scene IV – Favorable Press

[Dub – Who are the news anchors?][Fish – Let’s just pencil in two random people, a man and a woman.][Dub – Okay. We can firm up the details when the project is approved.]

[Setting] An informal morning news set. Our two anchors – let’s call them Joe and Mika, to pick a couple of names at random – sit next to each other on a low-backed leather sofa. CEO and aspiring tech oligarch Levi Maddox sits in the not-as-comfortable hot-seat next to them. He’s about to receive the toughest questions of his life. He’s ready, though. He was born for moments like these.

Mika: “So, Levi–can I call you Levi? You’re cute! Are you married?”

Maddox: (laughing) “Most people call me Maddox. I’m married to improving the delivery of vital goods to consumers, wherever they may need them.”

Joe: “Truly a noble calling, Levi. That’s an unusual lifestyle choice. What gender does it go by? Does it have specific pronouns?”

Maddox: (slight frown) “I prefer Maddox. Call me Maddox.”

Mika: “Maddox is a great pronoun, Levi.”

Joe: “Hey, enough friendly chit-chat. Levi, you are the CEO of Mobile Fortress, a shipping company that has developed the world’s first totally secure and autonomous delivery vehicle.”

Maddox: “That’s our guarantee, Joe. Our prototype, the H1B Armored Truck with Special Anti-Theft Devices, is making it’s way across the country at this very moment to make its debut delivery to the White (not racist) House.”

Mika: (frowning) “The White House is racist, Levi, because the President is a white supremacist.”

Joe: “Why would you agree to deliver something to the President? You didn’t vote for him, did you?”

Maddox: (amused) “No, nobody I know admits to voting for him. He threatened to invade our facility with Nazis if we didn’t give him free shipping.”

Mika: “Typical. America deserves so much better. Did you see Joe and I got ‘resist forever’ tattoos after he won re-election?”

Joe and Mike hold up their arms and pull down their sleeves. They sport matching three-inch vertical wrist scars.

Maddox: “Your commitment is admirable, guys.”

Joe: ” ‘H1B Armored Truck with Special Anti-Theft Devices’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, maddox Levi.”

Maddox: “We call it the H1B for short.”

Mika: (laughing) “What happened to the H1A, Levi?”

Maddox: “It blew up.”

Joe: “Whoa. That sounds like an expensive mistake.”

Maddox: “Our engineers were trying to rob it in dangerous and innovative ways. It did what it was programmed to do. It self-destructed. We considered the test a resounding success.”

Maddox: “We aren’t fooling around any more. Consumers deserve free shipping and far too many people take advantage of delivery vehicles. Either the thefts stop, or free shipping goes away. Probably forever. We think that would be a tragedy.”

Mika: “Indeed it would. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must have been a bear to satisfy. How long did it take to get regulatory approval?”

Maddox: “Not as long as you’d think.”

[Cut] A small office. The wall is stenciled with big red letters reading ‘NHTSA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’ with ‘The Truck Stops Here’ in smaller letters beneath it. Two safety bureaucrats [Dub – We should call them Dubrow and Fisher, just for laughs. Fish – I like it!] stare in awe at an over-sized novelty check spanning the length of their joint office. The dollar figure has many zeros.

Maddox: “We worked 24/7 to pass their safety checks. We went back to them several times. They were great. We needed some special permits to allow for our more exotic protection systems, but in the end we all worked together to get the H1B safely on the road.”

Joe: “Your vehicle sounds very safe.”

Joe: (addressing audience) “If you look into your rear-view mirror and see an H1B giving you a goofy, lopsided smile, be assured it’s there to help someone. Who knows, maybe one day it might even be able to deliver directly to passengers in a moving vehicle!”

Mika: “One last question, maddox Levi. Do you think would-be creative and daring thieves will take advantage of the publicity and attempt to subvert your delivery truck live on social media, just to steal the cargo destined for the President?”

Maddox: “They can try, Mika. Facebook broadcasts suicides all the time.”

Scene V – Highway Patrol Hero

[Fish – We need the protagonists name. Keanu Reeves has agreed to play the part of the State Patrol Officer who Upholds-the-Law-No-Matter-What. His get-things-done attitude is refreshing in an era where passing-the-buck is an art form. We’re just gonna refer to him as Keanu in the script and backfill later.]

[Dub – He agreed? Great! Wait… how much is the budget for this project?]

[Setting] A California Highway Patrol truck weight and inspection station along the freeway in the armpit of the state. Trucks are backed up awaiting the personal attention the California Highway Patrol is famous for. [Cut] Drone shot over the freeway, focused on the trucks, and zoom in on the inspection building. The air-conditioning hasn’t run since 2009. An automated truck is leaving the station as the zoom-in shot wraps up. Cue boring office duty music.

[Cut] Keanu Reeves is looking over a computer screen, checking the Bill of Lading for an AI truck suspected of smuggling white supremacist memorabilia. His California State Patrol uniform is clean and crisp, despite the sweaty environment.

[Cut] Computer screen with list of goods the truck is carrying. ‘Twilight – Meyer, Stephenie’ flashes on the screen.

[Cut] Keanu Reeves growls menacingly in his patented gravely voice.

Keanu: “Got ya…”

Fellow Officer: (gesturing) “Sir! Some kind of armored truck just drove by!”

Keanu: “It didn’t stop?”

Fellow Officer: “No sir. Didn’t even broadcast the proper codes.”

Keanu: “Take over.”

[Cut] Keanu’s fellow Officer leans over his shoulder and reads his computer screen.

Fellow Officer: “An illegal novel, eh? I’ll throw the book at ’em! Then I’ll burn it!”

Keanu: “I’ve got a truck to catch.”

[Cut] Keanu Reeves races away from the inspection building on a police motorcycle. His clean, crisp uniform flutters in his 85 mph wake. The law has no speed limit. Cue dramatic chase music.

[Cut] Keanu Reeves races past the last automated truck to leave the inspection facility. It is neither equipped with armor nor does it have active anti-theft devices. A drone hovers behind it holding a blowtorch which is working to remove the latches on the rear freight doors. It seems someone is desperate for their order. Continue dramatic chase music.

[Cut] Keanu Reeves catches the H1B Armored Truck. He dramatically drafts it. For average Americans this is a suicide opportunity, but not for Keanu Reeves. Keanu Reeves is the Chuck Norris of Death Truck. Cue ominous it’s-about-to-get-real chase music. Things are about to get real.

Keanu: “Reeves to dispatch. I’m locked in. Engaging the suspect. Broadcasting the code.”

Keanu lifts a high-tech speed-gun-like device and points it at the truck.

[Cut] H1B Interior. Lots of flashing lights, status screens, and the like. Cue over-synthesized algorithm-processing music.

[Panel] (flashing, red): “Official law enforcement ‘HALT’ code received”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Evaluating situation…”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Analyzing sensor data…”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Consulting Neural Netware…”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Checking Mobile Fortress (MOBF) stock price”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Evaluation Complete”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Conclusion: Likely robbery attempt.”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Executing Countermeasures: Increase Speed +5 mph”

Cue suspenseful thief-repelled music.

[Cut] Keanu races along behind and suicidally close to the H1B Automated Truck.

Keanu: “Dispatch – suspect vehicle is unresponsive. Broadcasting again.” Keanu raises his high-tech speed-gun-like device and tries again.

[Cut] Keanu’s police motorcycle speedometer needle increases to 75 mph.

[Cut] Keanu watches the truck pulling away from him in disbelief.

Keanu: “Rubber ducky! It’s accelerating!”

Keanu: “Dispatch, suspect vehicle has increased speed. Repeat – suspect vehicle is now evading law enforcement. Speed is now – ” looks down briefly – “80 mph”.

Dispatch: “Roger that. Sending backup.”

The H1B and Keanu Reeves continue to zip along the open-beta highway of California. They are in the middle lane, and regularly pass vehicles in the other lanes. It’s a minor miracle nothing tragic has happened yet. Cue dramatic tragic-things-are-about-to-happen music.

Dispatch: “Backup is entering the highway two miles ahead. Remain in pursuit.”

The H1B and Keanu Reeves continue to zip along the open-beta highway of California. Drivers in the vehicles they pass are making suggestive hand gestures. Some are cheering. Keanu Reeves attempts to pull out from behind the H1B in order to pass, but quickly darts back as they pass an RV. The boomer driving it pauses to gawk, then resumes toking on his 1973 Grateful Dead “Forever 21” official tour bong.

Dispatch: “Backup has arrived. They’re broadcasting the code.”

Keanu: “No! It’s bugged or something! The code only makes it go faster!”

[Cut] Two motorcycle cops and a squad car ride in formation 300 feet in front of the H1B. They are directing traffic to pull over, creating a buffer for the law to do its work. A third motorcycle cop is riding directly in front of but dangerously close to the automated truck. His high-tech speed-gun-like device is aimed at the sensor arrays located on the windshield, if the H1B had a windshield. The friendly, lopsided face of the truck has no effect on this patrol officer. He got an ‘A’ in Humorless class at the patrol officer academy.

[Cut] Speedometer rapidly needling to 95 mph. That’s 153 kph for our less-educated Canadian audience, so that’s pretty illegal.

[Cut] H1B interior. A still shot of the motorcycle officer is being evaluated. Objects flash in the picture as the truck IDs the various elements. Cue over-synthesized algorithm-processing music.

[Panel] (flashing, red): “Suspicious Activity Detected”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Sensor data collation follows”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “California Highway Patrol motorcycle detected”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “California Highway Patrol insignia detected”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “California Highway Patrol sunglasses detected”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Consulting Neural Netware”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Conclusion: Probable Thief”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Situation Alert: Theft in Progress”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Deploying Countermeasures”

Cue high-paced impending-death music.

[Cut] Seeing traffic has been halted, Keanu Reeves grim-facedly pulls out from behind the fleeing truck and begins to pass it. Bored drivers, now stopped on the freeway, film the spectacle unfolding before them. This is the kind of thing that attracts eyeballs on social media.

[Cut] The front grill area of the H1B, its armored and spiked bumper nearly butted against the rear wheel of the rookie cop speeding before it. Yes, in hindsight, of course it’s a rookie. The spikes begin to lower. Keanu Reeves passes the cab, and the rookie makes the secret highway patrol hand gestures he learned in highway patrol school, oblivious to his impending doom. Keanu answers the rookie using veteran gestures in return, which involve abruptly pulling away from the cab and shielding his face from the red mist that erupts as the H1B spikes the thief and rends the motorcycle into a thousand pieces of hot flaming shrapnel. Cue high-paced tragic-death music.

[Cut] H1B interior. Cue over-synthesized indifferent-AI crisis-averted music. [Dub – What? What does that sound like? Fish – Not sure. We’ll figure it out. That’s the kind of innovation The Academy rewards with an Oscar!]

[Panel] (flashing, green): “Countermeasures Deployed”
[Panel] (flashing, green): “Threat Neutralized”
[Panel] (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu ”

[Cut] Keanu Reeves races 100 feet in front of the port-side bumper of the illegally speeding and now murderous AI truck.

Keanu: “Officer down! Dispatch, close the highway! Set road blocks!”

Dispatch: “That’s a negative, Officer Reeves.”

Keanu: “What?! Why?”

Dispatch: “GPS shows you’ve just passed the border. This is Arizona’s problem now. Arizona law enforcement has been alerted.”

Keanu: “Mercy sakes alive! Arizona won’t do anything! They’ve been beta-testing AI vehicles on their highways for years. There’s never been a safety incident they haven’t blamed on ‘human error’.”

Dispatch: “Discontinue pursuit! That is an order, officer Reeves. Turn in your badge if you can’t comply.”

Keanu Reeves rips the badge from his chest and tosses it over his shoulder. It dances wildly in his wake as he races in front of the automated truck into the Arizona desert.

SCENE VI – The Grand Canyon

[Setting] A highway alongside the Grand Canyon. A puce Prius, packed with four clowns, passes a “Clown World Clowns South Rim Benefit Concert” billboard. The second line reads, “All Proceeds go to Extinction Rebellion”.  A third line, in smaller font, says “Exit in 5 Miles”. The last line, in large capital letters, warns “NO LAUGHING”. It features happy, excited, non-laughing clowns wearing comically over-sized red dancing shoes.

Clownies are the latest gender to join the powerful LGBTQAPPXFA alliance. They identify as asexual, and fit under the “A” in the acronym. The first “A”. Make sure you get it right or you’ll wind up in jail. Laughing at them is a felony in 43 states. Oddly enough, California isn’t one of them.

The clown in the passenger seat eyeballs the billboard. The Prius is in the left lane next to a regular non-armored automated truck. It isn’t passing. Cue non-amusing-circus music.

Side Clown: “Five more miles. Can you step on it? I have to pee.”

Driver Clown: “And increase our carbon footprint? I don’t think so.”

[Cut] Side clown looks out the rear window at the traffic jam behind them. It’s a half-mile long.

Side Clown: “You should at least pass this truck. They’ll give you a ticket.”

Driver Clown: “I’m what we call a ‘force multiplier’. By strategically driving 5 miles under the speed limit, I can get all these other people to join my crusade to save the planet.”

[Cut] Side Clown frowns at Driver Clown. His exaggerated lipstick makes it look almost comical. Almost. A man wearing a tight black bodysuit uses suction cups on the side of the regular AI truck behind him, heading for the cab. His theft attempt looks innovative. And dangerous.

Driver Clown: “At least you got your money’s worth from college.”

Rear Clown 1: “I racked up $80k in student loans, but discovered my true self. Now I’m a Clownie. Unemployed, sure, but I’d do it again.”

[Cut] Rear seat of the puce Prius. Rear Clown 1 has vertical hair spikes and a small novelty top hat. It hurts not to laugh at him, but we can’t. This is Arizona, one of the 43. In the distance, just appearing around a bend, is the H1B Automated Truck. The front is stained with dried blood. Cue ominous off-pitch eerie-circus music.

[Cut] H1B Interior. Cue over-synthesized algorithm-processing music.

[Panel] (flashing, red): “Safety protocols exceeded”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Consulting Neural Netware”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Initiating Emergency Shutdown”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Error – Debugging Diagnostic Follows”
[Panel] (flashing, red): ” *** Pajeet – are emergency shutdown procedures implemented? *** ”
[Panel] (flashing, red): ” *** Probably. My bonus is tied to flamethrower performance. *** ”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Implementing Default Emergency Protocol”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Speed locked – current speed – 95 mph”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Theft device sensitivity – maximum”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Theft device lethality – maximum”
[Panel] (flashing, red): “Energy Saving Mode: deactivated”

[Cut] The H1B, now locked at a minimum speed of 95 mph, rapidly approaches and violently collides with the hapless car at the end of the traffic jam. Vehicles begin to careen about wildly. Vehicles that don’t spin out, execute evasive fishtailing skids, or roll over, are helpfully removed from the highway via violent impact with the armor-plated bumper and sharpened spikes of the H1B. Cue destructive-mayhem-circus music.

Soon, the only two vehicles left are the clown Prius and the H1B. Cue imminent-death-circus music.

[Cut] H1B Interior. Cue slot machine payoff dings.

Panel: (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu”
Panel: (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu”
Panel: (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu”
Panel: (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu”
Panel: (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu”
Panel: (flashing, green): “Job Satisfaction: +100hu”

[Cut] Looking out the rear window, two clowns make comically over-exaggerated ‘shocked’ faces. The H1B automated truck – soon to be dubbed by social media as the ‘Death Truck’ – rapidly approaches. Cue comically-tragic-imminent-death circus music.

Rear Clown 1: “AAAAAHHHHH!!!”

Rear Clown 2: “AAAAAHHHH!!!”

Rear Clown 1: “Speed up! Evasively skid! Roll over!”

[Cut] Driver clown looks into her rear-view mirror. The only thing she sees is the blood-encrusted lopsided smile of the fully-armored cab of the H1B.

Driver: “Not on my watch! He has NO IDEA how high his carbon footprint is!”

Side Clown: (bracing for impact) “Ours is going to be ZERO if you don’t let him pass!”

[Cut] H1B Interior. Static pictures of the back passengers in comically over-exaggerated clown-regalia horror appear on the panel. The Death Truck isn’t laughing.

[Panel]: (flashing, red) “Facial Recognition: In Progress…”
[Panel]: (flashing, red) “Facial Recognition Resolved: Fear”

[Cut] The H1B plows into the Prius like a kickoff, sending it flying end-over-end into the Grand Canyon. Two fading clown honks are the last sound it makes. The insurance company will blame its demise on gravity. Bring imminent-circus-clown-death-music to crescendo.

[Cut] The H1B continues speeding down the highway. We see the mayhem left in its wake. Cue post-disaster temporary-resolution music.

[Cut] H1B Interior.

[Panel]: (flashing, green) “Job Satisfaction: +1000hu”
[Panel]: (flashing, green) “Carbon Footprint: Irrelevant”

[Cut] Officer Reeves drives slowly past the wreckage. Buzzards fly overhead. Bored and shocked drivers record him for social media. When he reaches the end of the destruction, he looks grimly down the freeway at the fleeing H1B, and rapidly accelerates. His uniform is no longer crisp, and the fabric begins to tear at the spot his badge used to hang.

SCENE VII – An Informal Morning News Set

[Setting] Joe, Mika, and Maddox still chatting on the morning news set.

Mika: “What do you like to do in your spare time, Levi?”

Maddox: “I’m working with the Clinton Foundation to rescue at-risk malnourished homeless orphan children and give them new lives in the modeling industry. It’s good for the soul, ya’ know?”

Mika: “Oh? What’s that like?”

Maddox: “Helping the Clinton Foundation rescue at-risk malnourished homeless orphan children and giving them new lives in the modeling industry?”

Mika: “No. Having a soul.”

Joe: “There’s breaking news! Reports are coming in that an automated shipping truck is speeding wildly down I-40 in Arizona and causing several traffic incidents. Let’s go to news anchor Shepard Smith”

[Dub – Doesn’t he work for Fox? I thought we were going with MSNBC? Fish – Does it matter? Aren’t they on the same side?]

Shep: “Our local crews haven’t arrived on-scene yet but a helicopter from affiliate KPNX in Phoenix, Arizona is following the reckless truck live.”

[Cut] News helicopter shot of a fully armored 18-wheeler speeding down the highway. A single highway patrol motorcycle is following it and catching up.

Mika: “It’s covered in armor.”

Joe: “It’s covered in rivets.”

Mika: “It’s covered in spikes, and sensors, and giblets! Or some kind of gore.”

Joe (turning to look at a now-empty interviewee chair): “Is that your truck, Levi?”

[Cut] Maddox, behind the scenes at a morning news show. He is speaking frantically into his Bluetooth microphone. His stylish man-bun is sagging a little.

Maddox: “No, I’m looking at the footage right now. It’s on Facebook. The front anti-theft spikes lower and ram into a cop. Probably a rookie.”

Phone: “Questioning unintelligible garble.”

Maddox: “No, the same incident from a different angle is on Twitter.”

Phone: “Questioning unintelligible garble.”

Maddox: “No, they won’t kick Twitter or Facebook off the internet! We need damage control! How soon before we can correct the problem and start the apology tour?”

Phone: “Apologetic unintelligible garble.”

Maddox: “Well then. Work. Faster. I’ll do what I can in the meantime.”

[Cut] Maddox, rapidly pressing buttons and placing another call.

Maddox: “Jack? Jack Dorsey? #DeathTruck is trending. Make it stop.”

Phone: “Begging unintelligible garble.”

Maddox: “Of course you can have a scooby snack.”

Scene VIII – Situation room at the White (not racist) House

[Cut] Deputy Director Lance Prancer addresses the President. He is wearing an expensive black suit and purple, silk, striped tie. His United States flag pin lies perfectly straight on his lapel. He loves his country, despite the fact that his mother hated him. It’s probably why he grew up to be the petty bureaucrat in charge of highway safety. Deputy Director Lance Prancer dabs his sweaty brow with a crisp purple handkerchief. Cue dramatic your-government-at-work music.

Prancer: “It’s in Arizona, Mr. President. Reports from eye-witnesses says it’s going at least 100 mph and destroying everything on the highway. It has already killed a highway patrol officer and four clowns in a Prius.”

Trump: “That’s not funny, Director.”

Prancer: “Believe me Sir, nobody is laughing. Both Virginia and Maryland are two of the 43.”

[Cut] Grim-faced, President Trump stands up and takes charge of the crisis. The room is crowded with government officials. West Wing lickspittles line the left side of the room-length conference table. West Wing toadies line the right side. Everyone wears their best keen-eyed ready-to-do-something face. The President barks out an order.

Trump: “Get me the Vice President, my three straightest Generals, and Dane Taggart!”

Prancer: “Dane Taggart? The laid-off trucker who learned to code and fixed the Boeing 737 crashing problems in less than a day? Yes, Sir!”

[Cut] Toadies and Lickspittles burst into a flurry of activity. Some will go find the Vice President. Some will begin the search for the US military’s three straightest Generals. Most will queue up at the Oval Office, where they will consult the stiffly-sitting Jared and Ivanka. Cue dramatic government-crisis-handling music.

Scene VIX – Dane Taggart’s Basement

[Cut] Dane Taggart is lifting weights between furious bouts of coding. He looks like an old-school ex-trucker who learned to code in the old-school way: by programming things. Cue old-fashioned headbanger toxically-masculine rock-n-roll.

A phone rings.

[Cut] An old-school red phone. A comically-short spring-like cord connects the handset to the telephone housing. There’s a rotary dial. A small red light bulb pulses in rhythm with the rings. Dane Taggart grabs the handset. Cue old-school dramatic old-school emergency-phone music.

Taggart: “Dane Taggart. What’s your emergency?”

Phone: “Slightly-panicked old-school unintelligible garble.”

Taggart: “A rogue Death Truck. Just throw some H1B replacement coders at it.”

Phone: “Panicked old-school unintelligible garble.”

Taggart: “You tried that already? It didn’t work? Did you try the right ones?”

Phone: “Upset old-school unintelligible garble.”

Taggart: “Not politically correct? Well put down the hammer! Good thing there’s another Dane Taggart in Guadalajara, Mexico that can solve your problem. You can tell the President that Mexico kissed our booboo and made it all better.”

Phone: “Apologetic old-school unintelligible garble.”

Taggart: “Yes, I’ll fix it, but I’ll have to be on-site to download a virus and make real-time adjustments as its Neural Netware processes the commands. I’m gonna need a ride. I’m just outside Seattle.”

Scene X – Dane Taggart’s Back Yard

[Setting] Dane Taggart is standing in a rural back yard. He’s wearing layered hacking clothes and holding a folded laptop. USB dongles and three Red Bull energy drinks are loaded in a gunslinger’s bandoleer across his chest. There’s plenty of room for a helicopter to land, should the need arise. Sunset will take place within the hour. Cue hopeful dramatic music.

A helicopter approaches, going much faster than a normal helicopter. It’s black. Cue more hopeful dramatic music.

Landing lights swivel about and dance across Dane Taggart, lighting him in a dramatic fashion. He remains perfectly still, although his hair and clothes ripple gently in the breeze of the rotor blades. Its wash is significantly lighter than that of a normal helicopter. “Alexa II N237Z” is emblazoned along the tail. The helicopter could easily fit eight passengers with its two pilots, but only one pilot is on board. Cue even more hopeful dramatic music, washed out with helicopter landing noises, but quieter landing noises than a normal helicopter would make.

The pilot is bald and wears a sleeveless t-shirt, sleeveless denim vest, sleeveless denim khakis, and aviator sunglasses. He motions Dane Taggart to hop into the co-pilot’s seat.

Pilot: “Dane Taggart?”

Taggart (putting on earpiece and mic): “Yes.”

Pilot: “I’m Jeff Bezos. We’ve got a truck to catch.”

The helicopter takes off and–

[Dub: Wait! The Jeff Bezos? The oligarch in charge of Amazon? Fish: Yes. As the most benevolent and caring of the oligarchs who rule the Consumers of America, he’s agreed to fund a movie where he’s depicted as the hero he is. Dub: He agreed to this? Fish: Well, not yet. But one of the oligarchs surely will; we can backfill their name into the script when they do. This entirely unnecessary discussion can then be deleted, shortening this insanely-long post by 83 words.]

–heads into the sunset over the Pacific ocean, but only briefly, since Arizona, and eventually Amarillo, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington DC lie in the opposite direction.

Bezos: “The President said you were some kind of programming genius.”

Taggart: “I wouldn’t say that, but I fixed the Boeing 737 crashing problems in less than a day.”

Bezos: “That sounds like a genius to me. We’re tracking the H1B Automated Truck in real-time. It will take us a few hours to catch up to it. Go ahead and sleep or–”

Taggart (opening laptop): “Sleep? I’m going to need all night to prepare the virus we’ll eventually download into the Death Truck’s Neural Netware.”

Bezos: “I’ll let you get to it, then. Starbucks?”

[Cut] Jeff Bezos holds out a Venti-sized bladder-busting Starbucks cup: triple shot, non-fat, no foam.

Taggart: “No thanks. I only drink coffee.”

— Part 2 of “Death Truck” will be posted Sept 4, 2019 at 5:00am Pacific Time —


The Spork Speaks — Tempest in a Teardrop: The Churchians — tempestinateardrop.com