My name is Bookshelf Q. Battler.
That’s not the name I was given. It is the name I have chosen, for it describes who I am and what I do.
I am the world’s foremost authority on bookshelf combat. I’ll give you a minute to let it sink in that such an activity even exists.
For as long as I am able to remember, going back all the way to the days when I was just a little Bookshelf Q. Battler in a pair of super hero jammies, I have been the owner of a mystical, magical bookshelf. It is a shelf that contains awesome power – power I have yet to fully comprehend.
Whenever I put a book on my bookshelf, the characters in the book gain the ability to step off of the pages of their tale and onto the surface of my shelf. These beings appear as miniature forms of themselves. After all, a bookshelf can’t support the weight of a fully grown person. That’s just science.
You can’t argue with science.
One might get the impression that such a shelf is a wonderful gift, providing me with endless hours of entertainment and the chance to get to know beloved characters from classic and modern works of literature.
One would be wrong.
The space on my bookshelf is limited and these tiny characters know it. For years, they have been locked in a bitter, never-ending struggle against one another to claim and hold territory on my shelf.
Needless to say, the battles on my bookshelf have not been pretty. I hate to admit it, but the characters who call my bookshelf home do not exactly follow the rules of the Geneva Convention.
My home is constantly filled with the sounds of beloved book protagonists turned warlords, terrorists, and dictators. Tiny bazookas, mini-cannons, diminutive machine guns – if it fires little projectiles, these minuscule beings will use it against the books of their rivals. They know I only have so much space, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the book they call home from being culled off the shelf and tossed into my trash can.
I try to tell them that will never happen. I’m an easy going critic and rarely give books a bad grade. I understand that most authors bleed their soul out onto the pages of their works and for that reason I hate to be judgmental.
These tiny characters refuse to listen. They will never adopt the age old adage of “sharing is caring.”
I suppose I should be flattered that all of these characters are seeking my approval. However, my position as caretaker of the bookshelf can, at times, be a tiresome burden.
You see, when it comes to my bookshelf, I am the UN. The book characters fight and fight, but when they cross the line, I have to get involved and reign their shenanigans in.
I command a contingent of green Army men who hail from my books about World War II. In exchange for listening to them tell me how they’re all going to “marry Peggy Sue” as soon as they get state side, they take up residence in the middle of the shelf, acting in their role as peacekeepers in a demilitarized zone.
When this happens, the characters relent, retreat, the Army men are dispersed, and then the characters start fighting again. It is a vicious cycle, to say the least.
Sometimes I send in humanitarian aid – little care packages to help the book characters who have been cut off from food supplies. Unfortunately, a tiny Machiavelli just steps out of my copy of The Prince, steals all the packages, then turns around and sells them to the other characters at extortionist, highway robbery prices.
God I hate Machiavelli. He’s so himself-ian.
I love all of the characters on my bookshelf equally. I wish they could love each other as much as I love them. I yearn for the day when they might learn to live side by side in perfect harmony. Until then, all I can do is keep them from murdering each other.
One morning, I woke up to the sound of high impact explosions. I knew it had to be the handiwork of Tessa Fireswarm, or at least the tiny version of the young adult fiction heroine who calls my shelf home.
If you haven’t read Tessa’s series, Arrowblast, you totally should. It’s a harrowing tale of a corrupt dystopian future, in which a vicious totalitarian government led by the cruel Overlord Kwazlo is somehow easily overthrown by a band of plucky teenagers with literally no prior military training or battlefield experience.
I jumped out of bed and ran into my office, where I found a tiny Tessa launching explosive arrows at my collection of Tales of the Lost French Children.
You’ve never heard of Tales of the Lost French Children? Oh those books are classics. They’ve entertained countless generations of youngsters for many a moon.
I don’t want to spoil the plot, but essentially what happens is the Croissantiers, a group of wayward French youngsters, discover a hatch hidden underneath the laundry hamper kept in the bathroom of their modest Parisian home. They crawl through it to find a magical land of mystical make believe in which a saintly aardvark and a butt ugly crone fight for control.
Oddly, the kids decide to stay but before you judge them, remember they were from 1940’s France so their choices were live under the control of a crone or under Hitler’s Nazi rule. Arguably, the crone was a step up.
Wow, that was a longwinded explanation.
Anyway, Tessa’s act of aggression was in direct violation of the Fireswarm/Croissantier Accord of 2014, a treaty I skillfully brokered between the hero of Arrowblast and the children who are always getting into hot water in their magic land.
Up until Tessa whipped out her bow and arrow, the agreement had held strong for a year.
“The Aardvark, the Crone and the Hamper Hatch is the only book in that series worth reading!” Tiny Tessa yelled up at me. “Clear the rest of those trash books off the shelf or I’ll do it for you, Bookshelf Q. Battler!”
“It’s a box set,” I replied. “You’d miss Arrowblast 2: Big Box Office Returns if I threw it away, just like the Croissantier kids would miss Journey of the Tedious Plotline.”
I knew that Tedious Plotline stunk worse than a pile of moldy rotten cheddar, but all of these book characters had become like my children. As their adopted father, I was constantly lecturing them on the need to love one another, faults and all.
“Easy for you to say when you’re not living on a cramped bookshelf,” Tessa replied as she fired off another exploding arrow at my copy of Tedious Plotline.
“You are in direct violation of the treaty, Tessa!” I said.
“They started it!” Tessa whined.
She pointed to my copy of Return of the Crone, over which had been placed a sheet of typing paper, likely swiped off my desk by the mischievous Crossantier children in the middle of the night. On it were the words, “TESSA STINKS! OVERLORD KWAZLO 4-EVA!”
I crumpled up the note and threw it away.
“I’ll talk to them later,” I said. “But for now, it’s bed time. Back in your book, Tessa!”
“Awww!” Tessa stomped her foot. “You always side with the Crossantiers!”
“Right now, young lady!”
And with that, Tessa opened up my copy of Arrowblast 6: The Final Blastening, walked into one of the pages, and disappeared.
Kids. These characters had traveled to breathtaking lands that exist only in our imaginations, fought vicious creatures, and saved the day more times than I could ever count. But once they were on my bookshelf, they resorted to acting like a bunch of cranky toddlers.
I couldn’t sleep. And I knew that Tessa’ explosions must have jostled Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was sleeping somewhere in my copy of his book of essays about the need for man to get back to nature. I knew if I didn’t leave soon, Ralph would wake up and give me a long lecture about the need to move outdoors. I was too tired to argue about how I’ll never live anywhere I can’t plug in my numerous electronic devices.
I was hungry. I walked downstairs and headed for the kitchen. I popped a frosted cherry toaster pastry into the toaster. Don’t judge me. Those things are delicious and with all of their preservatives, they will be here until the next ice age. When the apocalypse comes, I’ll be the one laughing, and you will all be my slaves, doing my bidding for the low wage of one toaster pastry per week.
No. I haven’t thought about this to great extent at all.
I plugged in the toaster. With the help of an enormous wall outlet adapter, I also plugged in the following devices:
- Tablet charger (to allow me to stream TV shows while eating my toaster pastry)
- Cell phone charger (in case I needed to call someone to tell them about my toaster pastry)
- Nose hair trimmer (I like to look good at all times because you never know when you might bump into an elegant lady)
- My belt sander (my belt had been looking a little rough around the edges)
- My electronic toothbrush (cherry toaster pastry residue is not a substance you want to leave on your teeth for too long. Just ask my cousin, Gummy McGee)
- My automatic bass finder (because it’s all about the bass, bout the bass, no sturgeon)
- My e-reader (I like to read indie authors’ books while I eat pop tarts)
- My super e-reader (I like to watch tv and read books on the same device)
- My television (on which I only display a video of a pile of wood on fire. I find it relaxing.)
- And at least 10 other appliances I’m too lazy too mention.
In addition to being an expert on bookshelf military maneuvers, I am also a distinguished scientist. I hold a Prestigious Degree in Science from the Advanced Science Institute of Science University. It was presented to me by my mentor, Dr. Hugo Von Science.
I am very proud of my Prestigious Degree in Science. (If you wanted to get fancy, you could refer to me as BQB, P.D.S.)
Sometimes I wear my degree on a chain around my neck when I go out clubbing. Women come up to me and are all like, “Wow! Is that a Prestigious Degree in Science??!!” And I’m all like, “What? This old thing?”
Anyway. Since I am a scientist, I am fully qualified to explain to you what happened next. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming and saved myself. Alas, hindsight is 20/20 and I was too focused on the warm cherry goodness percolating inside my toaster to pay attention to the storm that was brewing outside.
High in the skies above the Bookshelf Battle Compound, the sprawling fortress I call home, the clouds belched out buckets of rain. Claps of thunder shook the surface of the earth and lightning streaks brightened up the normally pitch black sky.
I ignored it all. I wanted that toaster pastry. And at the exact moment when said tasty treat popped out of the toaster, a bolt of lightning, attracted by all of the energy surging through my overburdened adapter, launched itself into the wall of my headquarters, through my adapter, and into my toaster. With nowhere left to turn, the lightning jumped out of the toaster and into my late night snack.
Before my very eyes, my toaster pastry grew to a tremendous size – six feet tall and three feet wide.
Most men would tremble in terror at the sight of a colossal toaster treat. Me? I laugh in the face of supernatural baked goods.
I ate the whole thing…and it was delicious.
An hour later, I was binge watching one of my favorite shows. I felt intense pain in my bowels, a pain no human being had ever felt before.
And then it dawned on me:
I had eaten concentrated lightning.
The bolt in my belly scrambled to and fro in my gut, tearing my insides apart as it desperately searched for an escape route.
And we all know the path of said escape route.
I ran to the bathroom, dropped my trousers, sat on the throne and….
Darkness. I was surrounded by nothing but darkness. I walked around for what seemed like forever until I finally discovered a light.
It was the light at the end of the tunnel that we’ve all heard so much about. It was finally my turn to see it.
I did what anyone would do. I walked toward it.
What happens when Bookshelf Q. Battler reaches the light at the end of the tunnel? Find out in the next episode of “Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!”
Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Bow and arrow woman, French kid, adapter and mad scientist images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.
Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Attorney, a lovely woman you’ll meet in June, advises “Any resemblance to other literary works/characters is purely coincidental and/or for parody purposes only.”
Hooray for lawyers!