BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:
Hey everyone! You might remember in July I put out a call to recruit authors of zombie books to participate in a fun month long event in October – “31 Zombie Authors.” Each day, Bookshelf Q. Battler will present a new page in his Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal, featuring an interview with an author of a zombie book.
I haven’t forgotten you, zombie authors, and will be getting in touch with questions soon. In the meantime, here is how I foresee the story beginning.
FYI if you’re a zombie author and you want in, please let me know.
WELCOME TO THE EAST RANDOMTOWN MALL
Thank you for choosing to do your shopping here, instead of that damn Internet, which we’re sure is totally just a fad that will die out any minute now.
Three stores are still open and we asked the manager of the pretzel stand to stop spitting into the batter.
Also, the police caught that weirdo who was stabbing people at random.
Enjoy your visit and please tell your friends we’re still open.
No, seriously. Please tell them. PLEASE!
It was a chilly fall Saturday afternoon.
I’d been stressed out lately. Almost a year into a one post a day challenge on my website, “The Bookshelf Battle Blog,” and I was only at a mere 3.5 readers.
The bad news was that Aunt Gertie had given up on it, labeling it “too pedestrian.” Everyone’s a critic.
The good news was that I gained a new reader to replace her, so it was a wash.
On top of reader recruitment woes, my attorney, Delilah K. Donnelly, had warned me that she was pretty sure that Jake Hatcher, my site’s Pop Culture Detective, wanted to pound my face flat for withholding the secret of his 60 year nap from him.
I needed a day off.
My girlfriend/video game correspondent, Video Game Rack Fighter, held my hand as we strolled past a whole row of empty stores, the steel gates yanked shut to prevent bums from turning them into makeshift condos.
“This place used to be jammed packed on Saturdays,” I said. “Bernie and I would grab a table at the food court and practice our beats all day long.”
Bernie Plotznick, my old East Randomtown High School buddy. In the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Bernie and I were a two-man rap duo known as, “The Funky Hunks.” If you like good rap, you’ve never heard of us. If you were a soccer mom around that time, you probably threw your blue denim stretch pants on our stage, as our non-threatening, goody two shoes style made us a hit with the over forty ladies’ circuit.
But I digress.
“I miss the arcade,” VGRF said. “My mom used to drive me and my sister here all the way from West Randomtown just to play.”
Randomtown began as a settlement in pre-USA colonial days. Alas, a split came when Zebediah Weston accused Jericho Eastward of oggling his sister’s ankles. War was declared, a bloodbath ensued, and the town was divided down the middle.
VGRF and I were from opposite sides of the tracks, but somehow we made it work.
“Pitiful humans,” came a low, baritone voice from my right side. “Outsource your economy to the machines and eventually they take control. This is exactly what happened to those dimwitted Moloklaxons, the…”
“We know, AJ,” VGRF interrupted. “The a-holes of the universe.”
Oh, if you’re just tuning in, I should inform you that the Mighty Potentate, the maniacal despotic overlord of a planet the name of which I’ve been repeatedly told is none of my business, has decreed that I am the chosen one.
Specifically, said all powerful being:
- Is a big fan of fiction and scripted television
- Was aghast when he discovered just how many reality television programs Earth has produced.
- Fears that a day will come when Earthlings will learn how to broadcast this trash throughout the cosmos, thus turning other alien races stupid and replacing his beloved scripted programming with shows about models shopping for clothes.
- Has dispatched his emissary, Alien Jones, aka “The Esteemed Brainy One,” a three foot tall green alien with almond shaped eyes and a bulbous head atop a skinny body, to help get my writing career off the ground by promoting my blog through an “Ask the Alien” column.
It’s a lot of pressure knowing that an extra-terrestrial dictator believes my fiction may one day prevent the dumbening of the entire universe. I try not to think about it.
Alien Jones usually beamed his columns to my blog from his ship and only visited my home, the Bookshelf Battle Compound, on Thursdays for Scandal night. It’s become a regular tradition. He brings the dip.
Other than that, this was the first time we’d gone out in public together.
The little guy was in disguise. Earlier, he dug into a box of old clothing Aunt Gertie had saved from when I was a kid and put on my “East Randomtown Mascots” baseball cap, a striped shirt, a pair of corduroy pants, sneakers and a little beige zip up barracuda jacket. A scarf covered most of his face.
He also borrowed VGRF’s sunglasses to cover his out of this world peepers. They were purple and girly, but Alien Jones doesn’t have any junk, so I don’t think he cared.
“AJ, are you sure it’s safe for you to be out here?” I asked. “I don’t want the government catching you and slicing you up or anything.”
“Fear not,” AJ replied. “If anyone asks, I am a typical Earth boy. My interests include super heroes, sports teams, and amphibians with martial arts training.”
The Esteemed Brainy One barged his way between VGRF and myself and reached his three fingered hands up to grab ours.
“We are an average Earth family on a visit to the commerce emporium,” Alien Jones said. “Anyone who implies otherwise will be vaporized.”
The key to the Mighty Potentate’s rule was his vaporization technology, which he used to turn anyone who disappointed him in the slightest way into a fine mist. As one of the MP’s trusted advisors, AJ was allowed to carry a vaporization pistol, though in any given week, the Mightiest of Potentates threatened to make AJ use it on himself unless his various missions were carried out.
My writing career was one of many MP mandated tasks AJ was juggling. I felt for the guy. He was swamped.
“AJ!” I said. “You didn’t bring your vaporizer with you did you?”
An old lady who’d been walking near us overheard me and ducked down in front of my alien.
“Vaporizer? Oh no, what’s the matter? Does this poor little guy have a cold?”
She reached under the scarf to pinch AJ’s cheek. VGRF and I looked at each other, unsure what to do.
“He does feel a little clammy.”
The thing you have to understand is that Alien Jones’ normal speaking voice sounds more or less like that smooth ass soul singer Barry White.
That’s pretty cool…unless you’re supposed to be a kid.
“Unhand me hideous creature.”
The old woman stood up, shocked and in a panic, practically ready to have a heart attack.
VGRF swooped in with a save.
“He’s got a sore throat,” she said. “And possibly ADD. We’re getting him tested.”
Befuddled, the lady walked away. We carried on.
“You know if you’re supposed to be a kid you probably don’t want to sound like you’re going to break out in a love ballad,” I said.
“Right,” the alien replied, and then after shifting his voice lower to mimic that of a little kid’s, added, “How’s this, daddy?”
Here, I should point out there’s little Alien Jones can’t do. Mind reading. Voice changing. You name it.
“Incredibly creepy,” I said. “And don’t call me daddy ever again.”
“AJ,” VGRF said, “What could possibly be happening at this mall that was so important to drag us out here anyway?”
As we closed in on the food court, the Esteemed Brainy One relinquished my hand, and pointed toward a stage.
On it, a video monitor had been set up.
Displayed on it were the words:
Today only at one p.m.
Infamous Inventor Dr. Hugo Von Science Presents His Latest Achievement:
The Reality TV Star Transmogrifier!
My diminutive friend returned to his bass voice.
“The Mighty Potentate demands I purchase every one in stock.”
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