Well, I had so much gorram fun writing Chuck Versus the Future that I decided to write another one. Y'all enjoy now, ya hear?
July 4th, 2018
Redondo Beach, California
Chuck Bartowski's life was good. Nearly eleven years since he landed the original Intersect in his brain. There had been "upgrades", as it were – e-mails full of more images to put into the Intersect sent to him, which he viewed and essentially added to the database in his brain.
Of course, he didn't work out in the field with Sarah Walker and John Casey anymore. No, he worked for the Agency now – as the director of the CIA's Intersect project. Codenamed "Omaha", he had agents in 271 cities worldwide, recruited from schools all over the United States – Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, even a few from public schools like Arizona State and South Florida, and one who Chuck himself found at Santa Monica College.
His agents all had brains that operated like his own – they absorbed millions of subliminal images, and then used the databases in their brains for analysis and operations. A regimen of hypnosis was used to train their brains to be able to access the images at will.
Several years after they first met, Chuck and Sarah had started what amounted to a torrid, passionate affair. After a couple of years, however, they realized that while they still cared about each other as friends, their further relationship had become about nothing more than sex. So, they decided to go back to just being friends – hard at first, but for the best.
And it turned out to truly be for the best about six months later, when newly-elected President Bloomberg had appointed Sarah the Deputy Director (Intelligence) of the Central Intelligence Agency. That made her Chuck's immediate superior.
"Well, thank God we decided to end that," Sarah had said. "We would've had to anyway due to the conflict of interest, and that just would've –"
"Been messy?" Chuck said. "Yeah. No kidding."
Meanwhile, Casey's star at Buy More had, oddly enough, risen far more quickly than at the NSA – or so everybody thought. Casey was now the chairman of the board of directors of Buy More, Inc., and had orchestrated its 2016 buy out of CostCo and its later sale of the Nerd Herd to millionaire Charles Irving Bartowski. Casey also happened to carry the rank of colonel in the United States Air Force, and still drew a fairly hefty paycheck from the National Security Agency.
And so, Chuck was the owner of the Nerd Herd. It still had franchises in all Buy More stores worldwide, but it also had separate offices in, interestingly enough, 271 cities worldwide. The manager of each of these stores also just happened to be a CIA officer employed by the Omaha Project.
The afternoon of Independence Day 2018 found Chuck driving from the Nerd Herd's corporate offices in Redondo Beach back to his ocean-view mansion in Rancho Palos Verdes. Well, he owned the mansion, but he lived in the guest house out back. He gave Ellie and Devin the mansion to live in, with their two kids.
As he drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, there was a sudden bolt of light across the sky. Chuck's first thought was fireworks, but it was way too early, and it was way too big for that.
A split second after the bolt of light appeared, there was a gigantic sonic boom. Windows blew out all around Chuck, but the glass in the windows of his Aston Martin DB7 Volante was bulletproof, and managed to hold up under the boom.
A dark shape appeared in the sky, burning and smoking. It was at least 20,000 feet up, but it was pretty clear it was going down. In seconds, it was behind Chuck, heading north, as Chuck headed south on the PCH.
Cranking the wheel over, Chuck hit the gas and yanked the handbrake, spinning the DB7 around in half a second and heading north at nearly the same speed he had been heading south at. He watched the craft go screaming across the sky, trailing smoke behind it. On either side of the road, people were stopping their cars and watching as it went down.
Traffic was starting to get just a little bit thick, as the curiosity factor got overwhelming. Chuck turned on the siren and police lights on his Aston Martin and hit the gas, bringing his speed up to just over 100 mph.
"Call: Sarah Walker," he instructed the car.
After one ring, she picked up. "Director Walker," she said.
"Sarah, it's Chuck. There's some – uh, thing about to crash north of Los Angeles. It doesn't look like any airplane I've ever seen, and I just before I saw it, there was a huge flash of light in the sky and a massive sonic boom."
"Jesus," she breathed. "Okay, are you headed that direction?"
"Absolutely," he replied. "I can call up a team to meet me there."
"No, this will be a Homeland Security matter," Sarah warned him. "I do want you up there, but let DHS handle it."
"Right," Chuck said sarcastically. "This should be good."
He hit a button on his steering wheel, ending the call. As he did, the smoking craft disappeared behind the mountains. Chuck braced himself, expecting a massive fireball and a boom –
But nothing. The smoke trail had stopped, that was certain. Whatever it was that came out of the sky was clearly down. But there had been no explosion.
With no explosion, the curiosity factor diminished rapidly, and Chuck was able to fly up I-405 with fairly reckless abandon. He had to slow a little when it merged with I-5, but the lights and siren cleared a path for him.
As Chuck was nearing the top of the stretch of I-5 known as the Grapevine, his phone rang. "Chuck," Sarah's voice filled the car. "Satellite imagery is showing the smoke trail as stopping outside of a place called Pine Mountain Club. Take exit 204 for Frazier Mountain Park Rd."
"Coming up on it," Chuck said, hitting the gas and cutting across four lines of I-5, earning himself honks and fingers from angry truckers. He flew off the freeway, using his handbrake to turn left onto the road, hardly losing any speed as he went.
"Okay, just stay on the road for about ten miles," Sarah said. "When you reach a road called Mil Potrero Highway, turn right. The crash site is about a mile and a half down the road, at an abandoned camp."
"Copy that," Chuck replied. "I'll call you when I get there."
Hitting the button to hang up, Chuck increased speed. Weaving in and out of trucks and cars going hardly half his speed, he reached Mil Potrero Highway in under ten minutes and hung a hard right. He could see the plume of smoke now, coming up out of the forest.
When Chuck reached the camp driveway, he stood on his brakes, causing his own cloud of smoke to bellow up behind his tires. Cranking the wheel to the left, he stopped in a cloud of dust in front of the locked gate.
Fixing his Bluetooth earpiece to his left ear, he grabbed the phone from its dock in the car. "Call: Sarah Walker," he said.
The phone rang. Sarah answered on the first ring again. "I'm the first one here, Sarah," Chuck said. "I don't know how I beat the Kern County Sheriff, but there's nobody else – wait a second."
Chuck looked toward the cloud of smoke in the middle of the camp. He couldn't believe what he was seeing – a child walking toward him.
"Sarah, I'll call you back," he said, disconnecting.
He ran up to the child. It was a little boy, looked to be about six years old. He had curly red hair, and his clothes were tattered and burned – consistent with a plane crash.
"Hey!" Chuck called. "Hey! Are you okay?"
The little boy looked at him as Chuck walked up to him. Chuck squatted down in front of him. The little boy cocked his head and looked up at Chuck. Then he said something totally unexpected.
"Are you my daddy?"
Chuck looked at him. "What? No, I don't think so… are you alright? You were in an accident."
"You look just like pictures of my daddy," the little boy insisted.
"Must be somebody else," Chuck replied, confused. "Can you show me where the accident was?"
The little boy nodded, then turned, and scampered off.
About two minutes later, Chuck and the little boy reached a ravine. "It's down there," the boy said, pointing.
Chuck couldn't see much through the smoke except for a scar on the mountainside. "What were you in?"
The little boy started to answer, but just then, a gust of wind swept through the ravine and blew away most of the cloud of smoke.
Chuck's eyes went wide and his breath caught in his throat as he recognized the downed craft. "Oh my God…" he whispered. "Oh my God… it can't be."
He just stared for a moment, and then, his reverie was interrupted by the sound of sirens and an approaching helicopter. Coming to his senses, he said, "Call: Sarah Walker."
She took a few rings to pick up this time. "Chuck, can I call you back?" she asked quickly. "I've got the White House on the phone, I've got somebody called Torchwood on the phone… I've got to get this taken –"
"Sarah." Chuck interrupted her rather forcefully.
Recognizing his tone of voice, she said, "Okay, Chuck, what's going on? What have you found?"
He paused for a moment, trying to find the words, but in the end, he spoke only two simple words.