This is my worst nightmare, but at least it didn’t happen to me…
When technology goes awry there could be dire consequences. The results may also yield unforeseen benefits for not only something or someone, but for the entire world. This is the story of Officer Peter Richard Johnson, a rank and file member of the Weehawken Police Department. A man who is no longer just a man—but one who is part man—and part machine. He’s a man who stands for truth, justice, and the American way. A very proud patriot who puts life, limb, and rotors on the line every single day while on patrol; serving the American people whom he so dearly loves from the very bottom of his oil pan heart, protecting the USA against the evildoers at large (especially those damn Marxists…). God bless, America!
To say that the Weehawken Police Department was small would be an understatement; it was itsy-bitsy-teeny-tiny, to say the least. There were six men and women on the force—and evil —was a countless multitude that was everywhere. Although small in size, thanks to a clerical error, the WPD was large in budget. When Captain Riceco, Officer Peter Richard Johnson’s commanding officer, had first seen that the department’s bank account now had over 24 million dollars in funds, he crapped his pants.
Returning to headquarters after a long shower, changing his pants and boxer shorts, Captain Riceco considered the options at hand. The money could be returned to the federal agency that it came from, he could do nothing and just wait to see what happened next, or he could spend it all before the accounting mistake had been discovered. Riceco chose to go with the last option. After all, he’d always wanted a helicopter for the WPD. One that someone could learn to pilot, to fly above them, one that would become Weehawken’s eye in the sky! Besides that, he just thought those police choppers were cool and insured his reelection was secure the next time Weehawkeners go to the polls and vote for a leader of the law enforcement department again.
Later that day, and with a lot of help from his fifteen-year-old son, Captain Riceco went online, found a Chinese website that sold helicopters, and bought the best model that money could buy: a refurbished AVIC Z11WB. It not only looked good but what really caught Riceco’s attention was it wasn’t only guaranteed to be delivered fully loaded with the latest super-top-secret Chinese technology called iFix™, it also promised 24 hour delivery time on all COD orders. So, making the required down payment, and while he awaited his order to be delivered the next day, the captain spent whatever fund remained purchasing tanks, (he’s always wanted one of those for himself), radar, a communications satellite (that was his son’s idea), scuba and deep-sea diving gear, flame throwers, bazooka’s, portable surface to air missile launchers, hazmat suits bearing the WPD logo, new uniforms, and lots and lots of other nifty stuff.
The Chinese AVIC Z11WB was delivered the next day as promised along with a user’s manual that Francis Riceco was ordered to read. While his son read the handbook, the captain called the other five members of the Weehawken Police Department for a meeting in his office. “Men, and woman, I’ve gathered you here today to ask if any of you now, or have ever been, in the United States Air Force. Anyone here, what, no one at all?” Officer Annemarie Chellini, the only woman on the force, rolled her eyes. The four men said nothing.
“Doesn’t anyone here have any military experience?”
Sheepishly, from the very back of the captain’s office, Officer Peter Richard Johnson tentatively raised his hand.
“Officer Johnson, are you raising your hand way back there, or are you just doing one of your dumb Richard Simmons stretching exercises?”
“Captain Riceco, I don’t know if this counts, but I went to military school for a few semesters when I was a kid.”
“And you didn’t enter and serve in the military after that?”
“No Captain, I had bone spurs.”
“There seems to have been a lot of that going around when it comes to going into the military. Alright, close enough. You’re going to be our copter pilot, Johnson!”
“But I don’t know how to fly a helicopter.”
“It doesn’t matter, we have a manual. And I’m sure after my son Francis gets through reading it that he can explain to you everything you need to know to fly a chopper, alright?”
“Well, I guess I could give it a try, Captain Riceco.”
“Good, now that that that’s settled there’ll be a hazmat suit fitting tomorrow at 9 AM sharp. So, be there, or forget about chalking up any overtime for the rest of this month. Dismissed!”
By later that afternoon Francis Riceco had reviewed the entire AVIC Z11WB helo handbook. The directions had been translated from Chinese to English, and much of it made little to no sense whatsoever to him. But the young Riceco had gleaned enough from it he felt he had at least some idea of how a rotary winger worked. One thing, in particular, had captured his attention. From what he thought he had read, the already installed super-top-secret Chinese technology, iFix™, was an artificial intelligence program with the ability to self-repair any damage the eggbeater incurred. It even came equipped with a 3D printer that could reproduce most of the whirlybird’s parts. If it actually worked in the way which Francis thought he now understood after reading the user manual, it was absolutely amazing!
The iFix™ self-repair system monitored the entire vehicle more than 30 times every second. If it detected any irregularities or malfunctions, without the assistance of either a ground crew or pilot, it fixed them. If a part was damaged beyond repair it communicated with the 3D printer, a new part was manufactured and then installed. All without missing a single beat. The captain’s son wondered why the Chinese were willing to share this information with anyone, much less a rival world power such as the United States of America. In his humble opinion, this app was beyond magical; it was otherworldly far out! But unlike his father and regardless of how surprising and exciting the younger Riceco found this incredible technological revelation to be, he maintained full control of his bowels and did not crap his pants.
The next day was Saturday and it was decided that Captain Ernest Riceco and Francis would meet at the airfield where the AVIC Z11WB helicopter had been delivered for Officer Peter Richard Johnson’s test flight. That, of course, would be the Teterboro Airport. Francis had written out step-by-step instructions for the soon-to-be-pilot officer. While waiting for Johnson to arrive, the boy explored the cockpit of the newly acquired flying machine; everything looked to be where the user’s manual said it’d be. The feet pedals to control the tail rotor were on the floor of the craft, the cyclic-pitch stick used to tilt backward or forward was positioned in front of each of the pilot and copilot’s seats, and the collective-pitch lever regulating the machine’s up and down motion was located to the left of each member of the flight crew. But what really grabbed the teenager’s eye was a small toggle switch place inconspicuously upon the dashboard and simply labeled, in both Chinese as well as English, “iFix™”. A boy being a boy, Francis flipped it to the on position before exiting the cabin. What could possibly go wrong?
Johnson arrived a few minutes later and Captain Riceco introduced him to Francis. Earlier, the captain had told his son to give the officer a quick rundown on how to fly the helicopter. “And Francis, one other thing after you show him how to get the damn thing off the ground.”
“What’s that, dad?”
“Get the hell out of that cockpit before he tries to take off. We don’t know how difficult it is to fly one of those contraptions so I’m not going to take any chances. I may not mind losing an officer in the line of duty, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose a son today. Your mother would kill me!”
“But dad, I’m not sure if I completely understood everything in that Chinese handbook. Don’t you think it’d be better if Mr. Johnson took some lessons at an actual flying school to learn how to fly it? Why not just use some of the money left over after buying the AVIC Z11WB and send him to one of those?”
“Because, I’ve already spent all that money, boy.”
Being a dutiful son, he did what he was told to do. For nearly three-quarters of an hour, the kid sat in the cockpit of the rotorcraft fuselage pointing out where each mechanism was and how it was used to lift the craft up and down, move it forward and backward, and hopefully, how not to crash and kill himself today. Petey listened intently, jotted down a few notes in his Weehawken Police Department issued notebook, and hoped the talkative teen hadn’t noticed how his hands shook from the fear of making his first flight. Outside the autogiro, the captain watched the two, wishing his son would just wrap it up and get this crap show on the road, or more precisely, in the sky.
After Francis had told the cop everything he could tell him, he was asked, “So, kid, you want to take a ride up to the stars with me today?”
“I’d like to, but my dad would give me hell if I did?”
“Well, why’s that?”
“He said it’s in case you crash and kill yourself or anyone else, I guess,” the seed of Captain Riceco’s loins said as he exited the cockpit.
Prior to starting the aircraft’s powerful engine, Officer Peter Richard Johnson shouted from his open side window to his commanding officer, “Thanks for your steadfast and unwavering confidence in me, Captain Riceco!”
“Just bring that thing back in one piece, Johnson. If you do, I’ll tell my superiors that you’re one helluva cop and put you in line for a citation,” Ernest responded with little enthusiasm. Yeah, Officer Johnson thought, I’m one helluva cop alright, you fat fart!
Going over everything one last time in his mind, Officer Peter Richard Johnson then hit the ignition switch and the main rotor blades above his head roared to life. In a white-knuckled fist, the cop held the collective-pitch lever on the left of where he sat that regulated the up and down motion of the machine. Twisting the throttle grip at the top of the collective he gave the engine some more gas, gently raising the collective lever up toward him as the RPM speed increased. The landing skids floated up off the ground as the chopper slowly rose into the air. His right hand was wrapped around the cyclic-pitch stick jutting up from the floor between his legs. Pushing it away from him, while working the feet pedals, the rotary-wing aircraft began to move forward as it rose up, up, up, up and away toward the heavens. Oh my god, Officer Peter Richard Johnson was flying.
Now, one thing no one had thought about or discussed with him was how to navigate and find his way around from the air. He was so overjoyed by this new sensation of no longer being gravity’s captive prisoner he shot forward like a bat out of hell in the direction of the cliffs within the Palisades Park. It was amazing how fast he was going and how quickly it looked like if he reached out of the cockpit window he could almost touch them. And inside of the next several seconds, he was touching them as he smashed into the escarpment of the rocky height. If Officer Peter Richard Johnson had not been killed immediately, he probably would’ve puked as the helicopter rolled over and over again as it tumbled in a wreck at the basin of the hills.
It would be hard to say that Petey was lucky that day since he had just died in an airway collision, but as a matter of fact, he really was. The act of Francis activating the iMe™ app before take-off was his only saving grace. As the wreckage of the destroyed airship finally came to a stop at the bottom of the steep ridges it immediately began to repair itself.
The 3D printer hummed and whirred as it manufactured any parts of the wingless airplane that couldn’t be salvaged, repaired, or reused. Yes indeed, fortune did crookedly smile down upon the young policeman on that day, because due to a pesky glitch in the iFix™ program it also repaired anything else within the entire fuselage. Including Officer Johnson, remanufacturing a new spine and replacing the broken one inside his lifeless corpse. It not only fixed and healed every injury inflicted it also used incredibly high voltage jolts from the motor’s battery, like a defibrillator, jump-starting him back to life.
Yes, perhaps lucky was not the best word to use when describing all the cards fate had dealt the hapless pilot on that day. For you see, as a result of that aforementioned glitch, it could not recognize the helicopter and his body as being two different entities. So, you know what it did? The iFix™ incorporated Peter Richard Johnson’s newly reconstructed and resuscitated body as part of the craft. And his brain was now interfaced with the onboard computer systems. Thus, the Chinese AVIC Z11WB and the police officer were conjoined, and one and the same!
As the once-man regained consciousness, two words were repeating over and over again in his mind: Helluva Cop. Officer Peter Richard Johnson was no more, and the AVIC Z11WB ceased to exist as it had. Instead, what was once an entirely inanimate machine, and what was an entire living man had now been patched, spliced, and connected together to one another. As the final parts of each were reassembled into a single entity, and since there was no longer any AVIC Z11WB or Officer Peter Richard Johnson, from that day forward the two who were now one would be known as Officer HellaCopper. Defenders of the USA, the thin red line between us and the Marxist menace, protectors of truth, justice, and the American way, for all Americans from sea to shining seas!
To be continued…