The Last Driver – Episode 1 – From the Desk of Bookshelf Q. Battler

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

FROM THE DESK OF…

 

 

…a World Renowned Poindexter, an Epic Nerdventurer, a Reviewer of Pop Cultural Happenings, and a Champion Yeti Fighter

 

Good day to you, noble reader.

Have you ever felt like the world has passed you by? You’re not sure how it happened. You can’t quite put your finger on when it happened but you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re no longer part of the “in” crowd and never will be again. Your pop cultural references no longer make sense. The beliefs you once steadfastly clung to are considered hokey now. You have a closet full of gadgets that have been rendered obsolete by new technological trends and the only people who are able to join you in quoting lines from your favorite movies have gray hairs popping up all over their heads.

My theoretical “You’re Not Welcome in This World Anymore” greeting card came somewhere in the early 2010s. I’d spent a large chunk of my youth trying to become a writer, only to realize that the old way of doing things (i.e. kiss enough butts until you kiss the right butt) would never get me anywhere, so I gave up and took the most boring job ever, that of an assistant to the assistant to the Vice-President of Corporate Assistance at Beige Corp., the world’s premiere producer of beige products and accessories. Beige! It’s the color to wear when you don’t want to send any kind of message about yourself whatsoever.

The first decade of the new millennium had come and gone. I was settling into the new normal of early thirties life when all of a sudden every jackass and his Uncle Larry started his own Internet media venture and much to my surprise, many of these endeavors did well. YouTubers, podcasters, bloggers, social media sensations, self-publishers – the gatekeepers had been bypassed thanks to emerging technology and it was no longer necessary for creative people to kiss a whole mess of butts before putting their work out to the masses.

Even though I never physically age and I’m a highly trained fighter of vampires, zombies, werewolves, chupacabras and yes, even ill-tempered hipsters, I find myself struggling to stay afloat in this crazy new age. Do-it-yourself media seems like a young man’s game and while it helps to be an allegedly fictional character, this world just doesn’t make sense to a man who was born when that peanut slinging doofus Jimmy Carter was president. Sometimes you just can’t get over the malaise, no matter how hard you try.

While I no longer recognize the new world we live in, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that people who used to never have a voice have one now. People are getting involved in civic matters and expressing their opinions like never before, all thanks to social media.

The bad news? It feels as though as a nation we’ve never been divided more (well, except for that time in the 1860s when Americans actually did divide the country up and shoot at each other). We’re more connected digitally than ever, yet we don’t actually talk to one another as much as we used to.

In the old days (the 1980s and 1990s for me), people would talk out their personal grudges. That didn’t mean people were always kind about it, but at least actual, in-person conversations took place. Today, it has become too easy for people to retreat into their own social media bubbles, to focus only on what they want to hear and to label those who disagree as the vile, evil “other.” This trend is dividing our country, noble reader, and people really need to stop hurling verbal bombs at each other over social media and start hugging it out instead. The line for people who want to hug me starts right outside BQB headquarters in fabulous East Randomtown, USA. Bikini models will always be given first priority to move to the front of the hug line.

Frank Wylder, the hero of the tale you’re about to read, is a much older man than I am, but like me, he doesn’t recognize the world he lives in anymore either. Frank’s issues run deeper than long forgotten pop cultural references and outdated technology, although those developments trouble him. The world of 2050 has been conquered by an intrusive dictatorship. The One World Order has eradicated free will and has taken control over virtually ever last personal decision that people used to make on their own. Some folks who would normally pop a brain gasket while trying to make a major life decision find a government managed existence to have a calm, soothing effect. Others, like Frank, miss living in an era where a man could grab life with both hands and ride it into the clouds, or occasionally fall off and crash.

Globalism. Nationalism. We’ve been hearing about these movements a lot on the news lately. Globalists think it isn’t fair that some countries get all the goodies while others go without. Nationalists argue that if Country A is being managed well, then it deserves to keep its goodies and shouldn’t have to give them to Country B which, lets face it, is probably run by an egotistical, self-appointed dictator wearing a ridiculous hat and a uniform with a thousand unearned medals pinned to it who spends all of his nation’s wealth on solid gold toilet seats and hookers, then complains that Country A is the reason why his people are poor. The Globalists might have a point about promoting international cooperation. The Nationalists might have a point that one country’s success doesn’t automatically mean another country’s failure. If only these foes could get together in a room, hold hands, and sing a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.

            I don’t know. Like Frank, I want no part of this hullabaloo. Both sides can duke it out, but if we all don’t start throwing more hugs and less fists, I fear the world of 2050 as described in this serial will become a reality. Ergo, the next time you feel frustrated by a person with an opposing viewpoint, offer a hug instead of an insult and you never know, you might just find yourself with a new friend instead of a despised enemy.

Better yet, go for a drive in a fast car. I love fast cars, 3.5 readers. I love fast cars and conspiracy theories (Biggie and Tupac invented time machines that allowed them to shoot each other) and this serial is a marriage between my two great loves. I wank it whenever there’s a new Fast and Furious movie. What have they made, like 10,000 of those suckers now? Hell, they can make 20,000 more and I’ll still be in the theater gobbling up popcorn and watching those things.

Moreover, I spank it whenever I hear an interesting yet completely unfounded idea about how some tragic event took place (can we ever be sure that an alien dressed like Elvis was not on the grassy knoll?)

Intense car chases and head scratching power plays. All the big time Hollywood moguls really need to stop sexually harassing young starlets for five minutes and offer me a butt load of credits for this dazzling spectacle. Get in on the action before some creative, forward thinking power player snatches this bad boy up. Come on, Hollywood executives. Why coerce actresses into touching your thingy when we can all get so rich off this story that the babes will be lining up to touch our thingies voluntarily?

What do you think about self-driving cars, noble reader? In the early stage of this emerging technology, it’s looking this new form of transportation might change our lives for the better. Sure, we’ll miss being behind the wheel on a nice country drive but you know what we won’t miss – being locked up in traffic for three hours because some dummy got into an accident and mangled himself beyond all recognition. Further, as a chronic late person, I would not mind if my car were to form itself around me while I’m sleeping and begin transporting me to work while I catch up an extra snooze.

Admittedly, I have some pessimistic tendencies. While everyone is looking forward to the day when their car says in a computerized voice, “Relax, I got this!” I’m concerned about the potential for the government to use these contraptions to further the nanny state. Look reader, I don’t want to alarm you, but as we speak, there has got to be at least fifty technicians gathered around in a circle in the basement of a CIA black site, pleasuring themselves in a round robin circle jerk to all the photos you have been posting of your most embarrassing exploits on social media. If that’s the case, then how could any government pass up on the chance to mine the memory banks of self-driving cars for information on where their occupants have been traveling to, who they were with and who they were visiting?

Plus, I just know some health nut will demand that scales be put into the seats of self-driving cars and if the occupant weights too much, his car will tell him he’s too fat to swing by a fast food joint drive-thru. Honestly, that would be a good thing for a lard bucket like yours truly, but I’m willing to eat myself into oblivion if that’s what it takes to preserve free will. Just because I’m exercising my free will in a way that requires me to wear extra strength stretch pants doesn’t mean you all should have to suffer.

OK, enough about me. Let’s get this party started. Tweet, your thoughts about self-driving cars, human operated cars, Biggie and Tupac’s time traveling abilities, government conspiracies and most importantly, the epic serial about to unfold before your very eyes to me @bookshelfbattle. Share more in-depth thoughts on Facebook, where I’m @bookshelfqbattler or stop by my blog, bookshelfbattle.com.

I’m working as fast as I can on Episode Two, noble reader, but I’m just one man. I have a day job to work, ungrateful relatives to take care of, pets to walk, plants to water, cows to milk, pig stalls to muck out, haystacks to bale, karaoke bars to visit, vampires to stake, zombies to put out of their misery, werewolves to gun down with silver bullets and chupacabras to put on goat free diets. I’ll find more time to work on this tale if you keep the encouragement coming.

Better yet, tell a friend about this serial so I could, you know, make some extra dough, or actually, any dough. I heard a rumor once that some writers make money. I’d love to find out if that is true.

What? You don’t have a friend? Try making one. It all begins with a hug.

(Get a notorized permission slip before obtaining the hug.)

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