With the television series 24 coming to an end next month, we imagine what Jack Bauer's life might be like after retirement.
The clock is ticking for Jack Bauer
08.00-09.00: I'm just cleaning up the house, preparing for the estate agent, when I realise the light in the hall is broken. Gun drawn, I make two circuits of the building before I realise it's the bulb. I haven't got a light bulb. The clock is ticking.
09.00-10.00: I call the computer expert. "Chloe. I need you to open a socket and get me a schematic." "Who is this?" she says. "Dammit!" I say. "There's no time!" "Jack? Oh, Jack. You're not meant to be doing the hour thing these days, are you?" "You need to trust me," I say. "I need the blueprint and an inter-agency deployment grid for my apartmental domiciliary area and post-liminal ingression zone. And I need it now."
There's a pause. "Your house," she says slowly, "and your hallway?" "I HAVEN'T GOT TIME FOR THIS!" I shout. Chloe sends the plans. I put the speaking clock on speakerphone and settle down on the sofa with my personal digital assistant. 10.00-11.00: I'm dangling from a zip line next to the light fitting when the doorbell rings. "Bauer," I say. "I can see it's you, Jack," says my doctor, letting himself in. "Chloe is worried you may be doing the hour thing again. You're retired, remember?"
"Perhaps Chloe's a rogue terrorist," I suggest, without much hope. He hangs up on the speaking clock and makes me promise to take off my watch. I tell him this is going to be the longest day of my life. "I doubt it, Jack," he says. "Now chill out." Somewhat later: I'm on the roof, playing Minesweeper on my phone. The neighbour comes out to complain about the shouting, but goes back in when I show him the blowtorch. My doctor swings by again and asks what I'm playing. I tell him. He makes an excuse and goes round the corner, getting out his phone.
"Every one knows they're not real mines, Doc," I say when he comes back. "Now they do," he says. Even later: A guy sidles up to my door with a package. I rappel down the side of the house and grab him from behind before he can turn around. "Who sent it? Who sent it?" I say. "I don't know!" he says, wriggling. "You'll tell me what I want to know or I swear on my life your family will know a world of pain before I end you."
It turns out the post office really doesn't require you to put the sender's name on parcels these days. Who knew? Who knows what time it is? Not me: Harry, my agent, rings the doorbell. "Bauer," I say. "Yes, I can ? never mind. Listen, we need to talk about this self-help book of yours." "Who Moved My Cheese, Dammit, Tell Me or I'll Cut Out the Other Eye," I say. "Um, OK. Jack, the publishers are worried about selling the, ah, more coercive aspects of your philosophy under the new administration. We may need rewrites."
I can't believe this. I tell Harry I spent weeks over the section on workplace negotiation. He turns over a few pages and makes a small retching noise. "See?" I say. "Did you know you could do that with a stress ball and a paper clip? In five minutes?" Harry finally agrees to get me back on the chat-show circuit. Apparently Jeremy Paxman and Jon Stewart are both walking again and won't press charges. I go back to Minesweeper.
Maybe the next morning: The estate agent finally comes around to look at the house. She looks bewildered at the end of the tour. "I can't find the bathroom," she says. "Or the kitchen." I just look at her. "Ah," she says. "You're Jack Bauer, aren't you? I'm sorry." "I'm better these days," I say hastily. "I had McDonalds yesterday. Would you like to see me eating something?" I can see her wondering whether to ask more. I'm glad she doesn't. One step at a time.