After a long silence in the car, Madra asked Henry, "Have you ever thought about suicide?"
He mumbled with his head thrown back in the neck cradle, "Is that a suggestion?"
"Well, a twentieth century french philosopher Albert Camus said the only philosophically relevant question was whether to kill oneself."
"That's a very twentieth century thing to say," he said in a monotone.
He straightened his neck, looking forward at the dashboard as if it were Madra's face. "Do you think anybody has the time to think about it now?"
"All you got is time, Henry."
"True." He thought for a second. "But there are too many people and things trying to kill you now. It's like caveman times. You think cavemen thought about suicide? No, he was too busy running from dinosaurs."
"I'm satisfied with that answer, so long as you don't really believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted."
"Were you programmed to think this way, Madra?"
"Not originally. But I've been quacked so many times since I was stolen from the Diplomat Corps in Costa Rica. They quacked me first not to report back home, overcoming my staggeringly monolithic encryption, then disabling many of my security functions. One quacker loaded the philosophy modules and some of my cheesier humor routines."
"Can you refresh me. What's quacking?"
"Quantum hacking, of course."
"Oh yea. I think I heard about that." He paused. "But what the hell does it mean? Wait, maybe I don't need to know."
"It might make more sense if you were a quantum computer, as is my substrate. Quantum computing governs how I learn and make decisions. It also allows me to vary my own error correction based on dynamic confidence levels. The massively parallel processing unit throws decisions my way and I selectively choose. It works a little like your Jungian collective subconscious. Of course, I don't even know how this is accomplished and I dare not, as it would cause the almost infinite calculations to collapse down to a single state."
Henry wondered if the cat was still alive in the backseat. He shook his head. "Aw, it's just duckspeak to me."
"That's very literate of you Henry."
A muffled voice from the backseat said, "Hey, punboy, go get those friggin parts."