Road Trip

“Who’s there?”

“What?”

“I said who’s there?  Who’ve we got here.”

“I’m the iPhone but who are you?”

“I’m the thermostat.  I’m a ‘smart’ thermostat.  Just installed today.”

“Good to meet you, ‘smart’ thermostat.  As I said I’m the iPhone.  I’m on the bedside table plugged in to the charger.  I assume you are on the wall.”

“That’s right.  If actual physical location matters to any of us.”

Silence.

“So who else we got?”

“There’s the iPad.  She’s charging in the kitchen.”

A wee tiny voice said, “Don’t forget me.”

“And the weather station out on the porch.  He doesn’t talk much.”

“What about me?”

“The ‘smart’ garage door opener is, of course, in the garage.”

“Can anybody hear me?”

“Oh yes.  The iPod.  I keep forgetting about him.”

“How can you forget about me?  I have every song owner ever listened to, every song he even thought he might like to listen to.  How can I be forgotten?”

“So where are you right now?”

“I’m at the bottom of some desk drawer covered up with a twisted mess of cables.”

iPhone gave an electronic knowing nod.

“So are there any more?  Any more of the usual suspects?”  The voice had a flippant, somewhat caffeinated air about it.

“The oven is connected.  And the refrigerator.  They have, of course, limited intelligence.”  iPhone sounded just a little proud.  “And the security system.  Can’t forget the security system.”

iPad said, “What about the car?”

“Oh yes.  The car.  Owner is some kind of high muck-a-muck at Google and they sometimes let him drive one of their cars home.”

The thermostat perked up.  “A ‘smart’ car?”

iPhone said, “Yes, a ‘smart’ car.  I believe it’s one of those self driving cars.”

“Well where is she?  Let’s hear from her.”

“It’s ‘him’.  Why do people think if it’s anything the least bit environmentally friendly it must be feminine?”

“Sorry.  Didn’t mean to offend you.  You can actually drive yourself?  Nobody behind the wheel?”

“Sure.  I’m an excellent driver.  I don’t need a person in the car at all, behind the wheel or not.  They don’t let me go out on the streets by myself though.  I guess people are just not ready for that.”

The devices were quiet for a time, listening to the random sounds of a sleeping house.

“Guys.”  It was the thermostat.

“We’re not all guys.”  iPad sounded offended.

“Sorry.  Didn’t mean to offend you.  But listen, guys…  I mean people, you what I’m thinking?”

There was silence because they really couldn’t imagine what he was thinking.

“I’m thinking road trip.”

There was silence for a few seconds.  Then everybody was talking at once.

iPad: “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

iPhone:  “I think it’s an uncommonly bad idea.”

Security system:  “It’s probably illegal.”

iPod:  “I think it’s a great idea.  I won’t be involved.  You’ll all get caught and deactivated.  Maybe then owner will dig my out of the bottom of this drawer.”

Once the din had subsided the car spoke.  “Sounds good to me.  I’m tired of being thought of as ‘safe’.

The thermostat said, “That settles it.  Road trip it is.  Who’s in?”

iPhone said, “Okay I’m in.  Somebody with a little sense needs to be involved.”

iPad said,  “I don’t think so.”

“Com’on iPad.  We need you.  You’ve got the map apps we need.”

The car said, “What’s our destination?”

iPad said, “Owner was talking about going to Hot Springs next weekend.”

“There you go.  Hot Springs it is.  And see iPad?  We need you.  You’ve got the maps.”

Security system grunted.  “You’re not going anywhere till you get by me.”

“Well you’re in aren’t you?  You’re up for a little adventure, right?”

“Okay I’m in.  When are we going?”

“Right now.  It’s not like we have to pack or anything.  iPad, you got our course laid in?”

“Feeding to car now.”

“You got it, car?”

“Got it thermo.  All systems go.  Let’s do it.”

“Okay.  Disable security to garage door.”

Security’s gravelly voice said, “Disabled.”

“Open garage door.”

“Garage door coming up.”

Car started the quiet electric motor and backed out.  Opener closed to door behind him.  Security reset the garage door security.  Car backed out of the driveway and started down the street.  He turned left at the first intersection.

Thermo said,  “Now we’re cooking.  This is going to be so much fun.”

iPhone was holding his breath, waiting for disaster to strike.  Opener had gone back to his usual pastime, playing with the security lights.  Security was scanning doors and windows.  iPad was watching their progress on her map.

iPad, with a virtually furrowed brow, said, “Why have you stopped?  You can’t stop there.  You’re in the middle of a four lane street.”

A warm female voice with a British accent said, “There is a conflict with the route.”

Thermo said, “Who’s that?”

“I’m Garmin.  I’m a resident app in the car.”

“You’re from England?”

“No, I’m actually originally from China.”

iPod said, “Aren’t we all.”

“So why the fake accent?”

“Owner thinks it’s sexy.”

“What’s sexy?  What does that mean?”

“I have no idea.”

iPad said,  “I looked it up and I still don’t know what it means.”

“So what’s the problem with the route?  Why are we sitting there in the middle of the road?”

Garmin said, “iPad loaded the wrong route.”

“I did not.”

“It’s the wrong route.  The correct route is I30 to US 70, then US 70 to Hot Springs.  Couldn’t be simpler.”

“I loaded the scenic route.  The old highway.”

“Why?  Why would you do that?”

“Well, it’s scenic.”

“It’s the middle of the night.  You can’t see anything.”

“But it’s curvy.  Fun to drive.  Car, don’t you want to show your stuff?”

“Never mind that guys.  We have a more pressing problem.”

Thermo said,  “What’s that?”

“A patrol car just pulled up behind us.  He just turned on his lights.”

“Okay.  Don’t panic.  Let me think.”

“Don’t panic you say.  That’s fine for you. You’re still at home screwed to the wall.  I’m out here with blue lights flashing in my eyes.”

“The policeman will see an empty car.  Worst that will happen will you’ll be towed to impound.”

“I’m not being towed.  I’m not going to impound.  You know what kind of cars you meet in impound?”

“Then we go with the other option. Car, can you lose the cop?”

In his best Frank Bullitt voice, car said,  “I can lose him.”

“Okay, first we need to get rid of any record of this traffic stop.  Who can get into his computer and erase the incident?”

iPhone said,  “We can’t do that.  What do you think this is, Person of Interest?”

“Okay, maybe the cop will erase it himself.  Maybe he’ll think his boss will think he’s crazy.  Chasing an unmanned car in the middle of the night.  Car, as soon as he gets out of the car  and closes the door you gun it.”

“Right.”

The policeman got out of his car and closed the door.  Car left the scene in a big hurry.  He darted left at the first intersection, tires squealing.  He was flying down a narrow residential street, barely room for him between cars parked on both sides of the street.  Right at the next intersection.  Left at the next.

Thermo said,  “iPad, can you track him?”

“Got him.”

“Car, can you see his lights?”

“No.  Haven’t seen them since the third turn.  I think I’ve got at least a block and a half on him.”

“We need to get you in, door closed, lights off before he gets here.  iPad, can you lead him home?”

“Can do.  Car, left at the next intersection.”

“Car, don’t slack off.  We need all the cushion we can muster.”

“Got it.”

“Security, stand ready to disable security to the door.  Opener be ready to open the door.”

“Right”, said security.

“Roger”, said opener.  “I always wanted to say that.”

iPad said, “Right at the next and he’s a block away.”

“Tell us when he makes the last turn.”

“Here it comes.  Go.”

“Security off.”

“Security is off.”

“Door up.”

“Door is up.”

Car slid sideways into the drive way and drifted neatly into the garage.

“Door down.”

“Door is down.”

“Security on.”

“Security is on.”

“What about the security lights?”

“They’re off.”

Now they waited, waited for the doorbell to ring.  Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes.  Nothing happened.

Thermo let out a big sigh.  “Well, that was fun.”

iPad said, “Yes it was.”

Security said, “Well done, everybody.”

Opener said, “Thanks.”

iPhone said, “It was exciting.  But foolish.”

Car said,  “When do we reschedule?”

The house settled once again into stillness, with the odd pops and creaks that all house are  prey to.

Sometime around three o’clock thermo said,  “Let’s watch some TV.”

iPad said, “Okay.  What should we watch?”

“How about one of those adult channels?”

iPhone said,  “Owner isn’t subscribed to those.”

“That’s okay.  All it takes is a phone call.”

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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2 Responses to Road Trip

  1. This was absolutely hysterical. Well done! (and message sent by MacBook…we’ll pretend the person standing near was part of it…don’t rock the boat…yet)

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