|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Matter|
“As I’ll ever be,” Karen grunts, her attention captured by a notebook scrawled with more scribbles than words.
“Okay, so I look her in the eye and make up some shit about a tracker that’ll broadcast her memories to the public or something, I don’t even know what I said. But Karen, the look on that thing’s face, hua-hahah-hah hah. If one could paint what I saw, it would be worth a million words. I literally had to walk away to keep myself from cracking up.”
As he says that last sentence, Chuck remembers the little family of ducks swimming in the stream. The momma with her babies, trailing them along, swimming them in the opposite direction the stream was flowing so the babies could learn to swim. They keep working, keep paddling their legs, but they always stay in the same place, never really moving. Learning how to move all the while not actually moving… right across the street from the American public high school.
“But did you?” in a gruff whine from the other side of the room.
Sigmund continues, “Did you put one of my trackers on her? Because the memory broadcaster is still in beta phase Chuck, there’s no telling what that could do to a normal human’s psyche. The technology hasn’t reached human trials outside of yourself yet.”
Karen, her eyes as wide as an owl’s when the labyrinthine forest it’s been living in its whole life turns out to be a small enclosure at a zoo, says, “It… what ?”
“SO ANYWAY!” Chuck cuts in before anyone has a chance to go anywhere with that, “Yeah it was really funny, she’ll probably never tell anyone she saw me. The school is still a green zone, they have no idea what’s going on.”
“Hrrrmmmm,” Sigmund grunts, rubbing his belly. “Well that’s good. Will you be here for tonight?”
Chuck takes a rip from one of the bongs next to the tea machine on Karen’s desk.
“Well,” he sort of says through five lungfuls of smoked packed into two lungs, “that depends.”
He exhales explicitly in Karen’s direction but she’s deep under the surface of her notebook’s pages, probably hasn’t taken a breath in minutes. So Chuck takes another rip and proceeds to blow smoke rings at her to get her attention. When that doesn’t work, he blows complex four-dimensional geometric smoke structures that fill the entire room with a haze so dense you could grind it, roll it up, and burn one end of it, but no matter how much smoke he blows, Karen does nothing to acknowledge anything Chuck has going for him. The robotic laughter of Chuck’s power armor’s computer snickers maniacally in the back of his mind.
“Yo,” Chuck says, feeling inadequate. “Karen. Any word on that amphibious motorcycle?”
Karen slams her pencil down and sits at attention, breaching the graphite-dirtied surface of her pages. “YES! Oh my god did I not tell you?!” she excitedly exclaims, knowing for a fact that she has not yet shared this information as she got it approximately three minutes before her boss smashed through one of the wall-sized windows, nearly giving her a freaking heart attack just like the last fourteen dozen freaking times he freaking did it.
Chuck imagines there is a chair behind him. He bends his legs in the chair-sitting position and the nanobots in his pants strain to hold his body in said position. “No, you’ve not. I’m listening.”
“I found one boss,” she says, adding, ‘obviously,’ in her mind. She doesn’t necessarily appreciate it when Chuck says obviously out loud when she says something obvious, so she won’t say it either, but nobody controls how Karen thinks. She continues, “I finally found one after literally years of searching.”
“But Karen…” Chuck begins in a low, airy voice, almost with a tremble, “I only asked you to find one a few months ago.”
‘No, you rich, trippy fuck, it was literally one of the first things you had me do,’ she thinks to herself, saying, “Months, years, who’s keeping track? But yeah, I found one, it’s stashed in a warehouse on the other side of the city. I did a scan and I didn’t see any cameras or anything. buh–”
“I don’t care for anything else you or anybody has to say for the next…” Chuck says, scrolling like mad through the URGENT Cape business files displayed on the inside of his sunglasses, “…fifteen minutes.”
He stands up and double taps his tie, causing his power armor to melt out of the silk tie fibres and come into form over his body.
To Sigmund, “I might be back in time. We’ll see. I don’t need to be there, you can do your thing without me.”
Sigmund shrinks a little, his lab coat creaking in time with his slouch. “Yes, I know I can. You just said you wanted to announce the winner the other day.”
Chuck says, “Oh.” The contest was his idea in the first place, announcing the winner would be a cool thing to do.
‘But Master Charles,’ says the power armor’s computer in his head, audible to nobody else, ‘think of how big your dick would feel whilst riding that amphibious motorcycle straight off the ground onto a lake or something. We can go to Lake Wantooki again. You know you got the Want Wantooki Ooki, Master Charles.’
Chuck looks over at Karen but she’s back to work on writing whatever it is she writes all the time, leaving him no choice but to face Sigmund.
“Well, uh…” Chuck begins, looking Sigmund in the eye. “I want this more.”
Chuck then turns around, runs deep into his office and smashes through the wall-window adjacent to the wall-window he already smashed, sending him plummeting out of the forty-second floor of his building.