PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…
PARTS 1-5 – BQB dies after passing lightning from his posterior, visits God’s Waiting Room where Shakespeare tells him to seek the meaning of life.
PART 6 – BQB wakes up in the hospital. His doctor, who bet against him, is out 100 bucks.
PART 7 – Tessa and Jean Paul apologize for the fracas that led to BQB’s unfortunate injury. They freeze up when Aunt Gertie enters the room because BQB’s bookshelf characters trust no one but BQB.
AND NOW BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE CONTINUES…
One by one, over a hundred tiny lassos made out of dental floss were tossed up onto my bed, hooking onto various places – my pajama buttons, my fingers, the bed posts, and so on. And one by one, over a hundred tiny book characters climbed up on my bed, and then onto me, to check on my condition.
The Incorrigible Monroe, protagonist of a 1920’s novel of the same name, was decked out in his finest white linen suit. With a martini in his hand and a cigar in the other, he looked me over.
“I say Young Duffer,” the diminutive Monroe said with an air of upper crust sophistication. “I’d hate to see the other fellow you exchanged fisticuffs with.”
“It was a toilet,” I said. “I died on a toilet.”
“And like I said, Young Duffer,” Monroe said between cigar puffs, “I’d hate to see it.”
I always felt a special bond with Monroe. His novel was a heartbreaking tale of a man who spent his life as a notorious poser, accumulating wealth and spending lavishly on parties in the hopes that he’d win the heart of Jenny, a woman who had zero interest in him no matter how hard he tried.
I knew a thing or two about that.
The Three Musketeers plus D’Artagnan withdrew their swords, which at
their size, were about as lethal as toothpicks.
“Enough of the petty squabbling among the inhabitants of your bookshelf, Mr. Bookshelf!” D’Artagnan said in a thick French accent. “Just say the word and we shall proclaim your shelf in the name of the King of France!”
“Why would I want my bookshelf to be claimed in the name of the King of France?” I asked.
“Because the cardinal sucks big time!” D’Artagnan replied. “You do not want your shelf ending up in the hands of the Cardinal!”
“I’m pretty sure it’s safe from the cardinal,” I said.
“If it’s all the same, we’re going to find some of the Cardinal’s men and kick their asses anyway,” D’Artagnan said.
“Knock yourselves out,” I said. “By the way, learn how to count. There’s four of you.”
Out of nowhere, a tiny zombie jumped up onto my nose and was about to sink its teeth into my schnoz when its head exploded. Behind him was Tiny Dirk Lane, holding a smoking pistol.
Dirk was the main character of The Shuffling Living. Set in a post-apocalyptic world with zombies run amuck, it was one of my favorite shows. I made the mistake of putting a book tied in to the show on my shelf and had been fending off puny one-inch tall zombies ever since.
“Thanks Dirk,” I said. “But if you’re out hunting zombies on the bookshelf tonight, can you keep it down?”
“What?” Dirk asked. “I’m supposed to just let the tiny zombies eat my friends?”
“No,” I said. “But you could grab a pencil off my desk and just slap them around with it instead.”
“I can do that,” Dirk said.
Good old Dirk. Always the voice of reason. I must have had a book based on the first season.
A buzzing sound filled the air. It sounded like the wings of a fly, but in actuality, the sound came from majestically small pegasus.
A minuscule fantasy queen was astride the flying horse. She landed her ride on my chest and addressed me in a royal manner.
“Akeeza doo walla walla chazza cho…”
“Please Annie,” I said. “Speak in the common tongue.”
“Very well,” Annie said as she dismounted her pegasus. “I am Anara Mistwake of the Family Zoovarin, Keeper of the Legacy, Shimbala of the Lowlands, Destroyer of Demons…”
“Oh my God,” Tessa said. “Not this spiel again.”
“Aunt of the Pegasus,” Jean Paul muttered mockingly under his breath.
“Aunt of the Pegasus,” Annie continued, oblivious to the peanut gallery. “Queen of the Kingdom of Wentzlendale, the Mountain Clifftops, and the Impenetrable Isles, Protector of the Enchanted Gems….
“Owner of a hundred green cloaks,” D’Artagnan added.
“Seriously,” Tessa said. “She needs to go shopping. I’ve never seen her out of that green cloak.”
“Like you never wear anything that isn’t black,” Jean Paul said.
“And the Oligarch of the Forbidden Fields,” Annie concluded.
“I’d add ‘Future Mrs. Monroe’ to her list of titles,” Monroe said. “But Jenny’s going to come around any day now.”
Tessa rested a hand on Monroe’s shoulder.
“Face it buddy,” Tessa said. “Jenny’s just not that into you.”
“Hello Annie,” I said. “You know you really don’t have to announce all of your titles every time you see me but go on. What’s up?”
“I come to propose a solution that will restore order to your bookshelf and prevent the various characters who dwell within your collection of volumes from stepping out and fighting one another while you slumber,” the fantasy queen said.
“Let’s hear it,” I replied.
“You simply transfer control of your shelf to my creator,” Annie said.
“Your creator?” I asked.
“Yes,” Dany replied. “The old man with beard and funny hat.”
Annie, of course, hailed from my favorite fantasy series of books, A Dirge of Murder and Betrayal. Her creator was none other than my hero, prolific writer and legendary uber nerd Joel LL Torrow.
He was known throughout the literary world for having no issue with wacking main characters left and right, often in unexpected ways. In fact, I had a theory that he was going to end the series by having Annie defeat all her enemies and be named Supreme Super Queen only to die from a bad staff infection after stubbing her toe.
I looked out at the sea of tiny book characters standing all over me.
Every one of them appeared positively petrified at the idea.
“Well,” I said. “I suppose your creator does know how to get rid of troublesome characters.”
“No!” Tessa yelled.
“We’ll be good!” Jean Paul said.
“Promise?” I asked.
“We promise,” Tessa said.
“Yes,” Jean Paul said as he handed a stick of bubble gum to Tessa. “In fact, Tessa, please accept this piece of gum as a token of our truce.”
“Is it any good?” Tessa asked.
“It better be,” Jean Paul replied. “I double crossed the aardvark and sold out my siblings for it!”
Does BQB ever recover from his injury? Stay tuned!
Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015. All Rights Reserved
(Though of course, The Three Musketeers belong to the ages)
Zombie, old man, fantasy woman and Three Musketeers images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.