Tag Archives: cars

The Last Driver – Episode 1 – Chapter 6

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

March 14, 2050

After an hour of channel-surfing the state approved tele-web, my mind was numb. I’d seen countless hours of television in my youth. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, but all of it was better than the trash the One World Order spoon fed the masses. The irony is that I found that I found these shows humorous. Hollywood had thrown in with the Order and all the writers, producers, actors and actresses – they were putting on these shows with a straight face, never realizing that old timers like me were laughing at them. I doubt anyone under 35 realized these shows had become inadvertent parodies of everything the One World Order stood for.

I reached for Billy Allen’s dead grandpa’s ancient X-Tab. It was a bad idea to keep it out in the open. Each individual movie stored on it would most likely be considered a separate offense the state and yet, it had been so long since I’d seen anything remotely entertaining that I couldn’t help but watch another old movie. I turned the device on and was scrolling through the selections when there was a knock on the door.

“Shit.” As the knocks continued, I stood up and frantically looked around the room, hoping to find a good hiding spot for the ancient X-Tab. The knocks grew louder. A very mellow, almost high-sounding electronic voice spoke. “Citizen Wylder?”

The unapproved X-Tab was still in my hand and the only thing standing between me and a trip to a re-education center was the door. “Yes?”

“Civil Society Monitor Drones,” the voice said. “We’re here for your weekly inspection.”

“Oh,” I said.   I scanned the room. I pondered shoving the X-Tab under a doily on an end table, stuffing the device down my pants, and making a rub to the bathroom to see if it would fit down the toilet, but none of those options seemed viable.

“Didn’t we do that last week?” I asked.

“We do them every week,” the drone answered. “Hence, ‘weekly inspections.’”

“Oh right,” I said. “Sorry. I’m an old man. I forget these things.”

If the first best thing about being old is running out of fucks to give, the second best thing is being able to feign incompetence as an excuse. Sometimes I didn’t have to feign it, although this time I was.

“Are you alright, Citizen Wylder?” the drone inquired.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Just tidying up.”

“There’s no need,” the drone said. “We see many homes in various states of disarray.”

“Oh, you know me boys,” I said. “My mother always taught me to make your place spic and span if you’re having company over.”

I was out of time. I gave up, lifted up the middle couch cushion, stashed the ancient X-Pad, then dropped the cushion and sat down.

“We’re coming in,” the drone said.

I put my arm around Hannah, who was still asleep. “Oh no, I don’t want to put you out. I’ll be right there.”

The electronic locks on my front door clicked. The door swung open and in flew three drones. They were fairly standard in appearance. Four whirring rotor blades attached to a base, with a 360-degree camera that saw everything hanging down. As an interesting touch, there was a red light just above the camera that blinked whenever the contraption spoke.

“Good evening, Citizen Wylder,” the drone in the center said.

I sat up and grabbed my back, then winced. “Oh Jeeze Louise. Hello boys. I’m sorry I didn’t get to the door sooner but you know…my aching sacroiliac.”

“No worries,” the center drone said. The drones to the left and right broke off from the pack. The left drone headed for the kitchen. The right one made a beeline for the garage.”

The remaining drone buzzed closer to me. “I am Civil Society Monitor Drone Number 327B19, but to placate your humanist need to relate to anything with the power of speech, you may call me Randy 12.0.”

“Frank Wylder,” I said as I put out my hand. The drone looked at it. I looked at it. Neither of us were able to figure out what to do next, so I put the hand away.

“Right,” I said.

“You may refer to my colleagues as Jeff 7.6 and Carl 8.9,” Randy 12.0 said.

“Alright,” I replied. “What happened to Pete 11.1? I’m used to seeing him.”

“Grounded for repairs,” Randy 12.0 said. “An unfortunate encounter with an unruly citizen I’m afraid.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s bullshit. Tell that little bucket of bolts I hope he gets better real soon.”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “A one-hundred credit fine will be deducted from your account.”

“For what?” I asked. “Wishing your buddy well?”

“Violation of the Anti-Inappropriate Speech Code,” Randy 12.0 said. “The Obscenity Eradication Act, in particular.”

“Oh,” I said. “Here we go.”

Ever so slowly, the drone flew about the living room, being sure to record video of everything. He then returned to face me. A red laser shot out of the center of the drone and painted my face with a grid.

“Confirming identity,” Randy 12.0 said. “Frank Wylder. Born 1987. Class 7 citizen.”

Ugh. There were ten classes assigned by the One World Order, with 1 being the best and 10 the worst. I was poor, so I was assigned to Class 7. This assignment meant I was only allowed to reside in a low level neighborhood, and the amount of money and possessions I could have was severely limited. If you think “7” doesn’t sound like such a bad number, consider that Class 8 is reserved for general, run-of-the-mill criminals. Class 9 is comprised entirely of pederasts and Class 10 includes, you guessed it, the vile Nationalist pigs. So in other words, my government looked upon me with just a little bit more favor than would be provided to criminals, perverts, and traitors.

Randy 12.0 stared at me and waited. Eventually, I figured out what he wanted me to say. “All hail the One World Order.”

“Long may it reign,” the drone said as it buzzed towards Hannah.

“My granddaughter,” I said. “I have an agreement with my ex-wife. She has custody. I get visitation.”

Custody agreements and other standing divorce arrangements from the um…time that I wasn’t allowed to talk about had been grandfathered in. The One World Order had forced many bizarre, draconian laws on its subjects, but even they knew they weren’t going to be able to force women to take back men that they’d given the old heave-ho to.

The drone painted Hannah’s sleepy face with a red laser grid.   “Scanning…Hannah Wylder. Born 2037. Age 13. Yes, your custody documents are on file and are in order.”

Randy 12.0 took another swing around the room. “How are you this evening, Citizen Wylder?”

“I’m hanging in there,” I said.

“Been having any problems?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“Just old age,” I said. “Losing hair in the places I want to keep it. Growing it in places I don’t want it. Don’t even get me started on my bowel movements. They haven’t been regular in ages.”

“Too much information, Citizen Wylder,” the drone said. “Have you observed any suspicious behavior amongst your neighbors?”

“Nope,” I said. “The Martinezes are fine people. A real credit to the order, if you ask me.”

“Has there been an issue with your Happy Order Month lawn signs?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“Excuse me?”

“Citizen Martinez indicated to me that he has placed several signs on your lawn to assist you in putting your pride in the One World Order on full display,” Randy 12.0 said. “But they keep disappearing.”

“Right,” I said. “Yeah, you know, someone keeps swiping them…but Martinez, he’s a good egg.”

“A good what?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“He’s a good egg,” I said. “He keeps putting signs on my lawn because, you know, I’m old, I can’t get out to get new ones every time they go missing.”

“Understood,” Randy 12.0 said. “Why would you refer to your neighbor as a protein deposit dispensed from a chicken’s hindquarters?”

I shook my head. “Its an expression. It…never mind.”

“So no suspicious activity observed amongst your neighbors then?” Randy 12.0 said.

I smirked. “No…well.”

Randy 12.0 spun around and faced me. “What?”

I waved my hand, attempting to shoo the drone away. “No, it’s nothing.”

“Out with it, Citizen Wylder,” the drone said. “Any piece of information you have, no matter how insignificant it may seem, may prove to be of vital importance to the One World Order.”

“Well, when you put it that way…” I looked around the room, then leaned forward, towards the drone. “Look, you didn’t hear this from me, but Mrs. Howard, that old bitch across the street, have you seen the size of her lately? She has got to be sneaking extra rations. I’d work her over real good if I were you.”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “You have been fined one hundred credits.”

I spread my arms out. “For what?”

“Another obscenity violation,” Randy 12.0 said.

I was down two hundred credits now, and I needed that money. I grew angry, pissed even. I lost it and started saying things I knew was just going to displease my uninvited guest.

“Come on,” I said. “The U.S. Constitution guarantees me the Freedom of Speech.”

“The One World Order maintains that document never existed, nor would it be considered valid if it ever did, which it did not,” Randy 12.0 said. “And you have been fined another one hundred credits.”

“For?” I asked.

“Violation of the Anti-Nationalist Speech Act,” Randy 12.0 said. Citizens are not allowed to make claims that any government ever existed other than the One World Order.”

I took a deep breath and found my composure. Accusations of harboring Nationalist tendencies were definitely something I didn’t need. “I’m sorry…I’m old…I get confused.”

“Understandable, given your advanced age,” Randy 12.0 said. “Citizen Wylder, are you aware that at anytime, you may voluntarily check yourself into one of the Order’s many fine senior citizen facilities. There are nursing homes for the infirm, though it would appear in your position, a mere assisted living center would be more suitable.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Pete reminded me every time. Sorry, if it’s all the same, I’d like to kick back around here. I’d miss my granddaughter too much plus I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You already are a burden,” Randy 12.0 said. “My records indicate you secured disability leave from your assigned position as a janitor due to depression related issues?”

“Yup,” I said. “It was a great job. Really, I loved cleaning toilets but you know, I got so sad.”

“Do the depression issues persist?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“All the time,” I said. “I don’t know how it happened but I am one morose son of a…”

Randy 12.0 hovered in front of me, almost as though he was waiting to beep. I avoided the fine. “…son of a something or other…shame really, I don’t I’ll ever be able to muster up the mental capacity to scrub a toilet ever again.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Citizen Wylder,” Randy 12.0 said. “I’m downloading some brochures about the Order’s many fine senior citizen facilities to your tele-web.”

“No need,” I said. “I’m not a big reader.”

“Do start thinking about the impending change,” Randy 12.0 said. “Retirement to a senior citizen facility is mandatory upon reaching the age of 65. That’s not far away for you.”

“Pete reminded me of that all the time too,” I said.

“Senior citizen facilities are not that bad, Citizen Wylder,” Randy 12.0 said. “There’s tennis, racquet ball, arts and crafts, aerobics, swimming, talent shows…”

“Mind control…”

Randy 12.0’s red light blinked. “The Order prefers to refer to that as ‘mind management.’”

“Gotcha,” I said.

Randy 12.0 made another circular pass around the room. “Citizen Wylder, do you have any contraband to declare?”

My mind instantly went to the ancient X-Tab, still underneath the cushion I was sitting on. “Pardon?”

“Contraband,” the drone said. “Are you in possession of any illegal items?”

“No,” I said. “Of course not.”

The drone buzzed toward me in a straight line and hovered a mere six inches from my face. “Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“But,” the drone said. “Are you sure that you’re sure?”

I pondered the question. “Sir, this is a house dedicated to the preservation of the One World Order and all of its ways. I don’t appreciate your insinuation.”

Randy 12.0 backed up another six inches. “I insinuated nothing, Citizen Wylder. I merely wish to make you understand that penalties for contraband violations are often less severe when they are confessed to before the illegal item is found.”

I remained silent.

“Do you understand, Citizen Wylder?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“I do,” I said. “I’m just waiting for you to laugh maniacally like a comic book super villain.”

“I do not understand,” Randy 12.0 said.

“That’s ok, sport,” I said. “Happens to the best of us.”

“Now that I have ensured you understand the consequences of providing a false answer, I’ll have you answer the question again,” Randy 12.0 said.

“Holy shit,” I said. “Did someone stick a sadist chip up your ass?”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “An additional two hundred credit fine.”

“That was only one violation,” I said.

“Two violations,” Randy 12.0 said.

“But I used both obscenities in the same sentence,” I protested.

“That doesn’t matter,” Randy 12.0 said. “Each obscenity is a separate violation.”

“Huh,” I said. “You learn something new everyday.”

“Answer the question please.”

I rolled my eyes and held up the palm of my hand. “Look, you airborne clunker, I swear on my mother’s eternal soul that I do not have any illegal stuff in this house, OK?”

Randy 12.0 beeped.

“Oh come on,” I said. “What now?”

“Processing…processing…yes…that was close to a violation, but I have the power to let you off with a warning.”

I was getting tired. I rubbed my hand over my face. “Dare I ask?”

“Violation of the Religion Eradication Act,” Randy 12.0 said. “You stated your deceased mother has an eternal soul but as far as the One World Order is concerned, she is no more than a spent carcass that in all likelihood as disintegrated into dust by now.”

I sat back on the couch. “Way to liven up the mood, Randy 12.0”

“A fine was possible, but I took into account the intent of the infraction, namely, your backward attempt to assure me you are not in any possession of contraband,” Randy 12.0 said. “Since you were not actively attempting to preach outdated and illegal religious dogma, I am able to wave the violation.”

“Well,” I said. “’Aint that some shit.”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “A one hundred dollar fine. I must warn you that all speech code violations are kept track of and further infractions may lead to time in a re-education center.”

Jeff 7.6 and Carl 8.9 flew into the living room.

“Citizen Wylder,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“That’s my name,” I said. “Don’t wear it out.”

“Are you aware that there are 9 cans of beer in your fridge?” Jeff 7.6 inquired.

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, well you see, my granddaughter’s been visiting me so that’s put me in a happier mood. I haven’t been feeling the need to souse myself up as much lately.”

“You are only allowed to have six beers in your fridge at any time,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“No,” I replied. “I thought I could only buy six beers a week.”

“That’s correct,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“And I can only drink six beers a week,” I said.

“Correct,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“But if I don’t drink them I get to keep them, don’t I?” I asked.

“No,” Jeff 7.6 said. “Because then we have no assurances that you won’t drink 9 beers in a week.”

“Ugh,” I said. “So you’re punishing me for drinking less?”

“Do not be concerned,” Jeff 7.6 said. “I have discretionary authority here. Technically, I do have the power to issue a fine. However, I will notify the contraband agent to stop by your home tomorrow to pick up the three excess beers.”

“You’re a real soft touch, Jeff 7.6,” I said.

“I don’t understand that statement,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“Can I just drink the extra three beers tonight?” I asked.

“No,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“Why not?” I inquired.

“Then we would have no assurances that you would not drink the remaining six beers and as we have established…”

“I’m only allowed six beers a week.”

“Exactly.”

“Huh,” I said. “Well, tell me this, Jeff Old Boy, what happens if I’m not home when the contraband agent stops by tomorrow?”

“He’ll let himself in.”

“Of course he will,” I said.   “What happens if I drink the three excess beers?”

“If you drink any amount of beer tonight,” Jeff 7.6 said. “Then there had better be at least three excess beers in your fridge for confiscation. At that point, it will be a safe determination that you drank only your six beer limit this week, but then you will be required to refrain from any further beer consumption until the following week.”

“Wow,” I said. “You little guys do a bang up job keeping track of everyone’s comings and goings. A real great job. You’re all aces in my book.”

Jeff 7.6 beeped. “One hundred credit fine.”

“What now?” I asked.

“Violation of the Anti-Gambling Related Speech Act.”

I raised my pointer finger. “Wait. I’d like to appeal that.”

“On what grounds?” Jeff 7.6 asked.

“I wasn’t talking about ‘aces’ as in the ‘ace’ card,” I said. “I was just paying you a compliment.”

“I detected sarcasm,” Jeff 7.6 said.

I huffed and puffed. “Well, sir, your sarcasm meter is on the fritz because I was distinctly just giving credit where credit is due. You’re going to fine a guy for telling you that you did a good job?”

“If you wish to appeal this fine,” Jeff 7.6 said. “You have thirty days to file an appeal form with the Regional Board of Fine Adjudicators. Once you file, your appearance at 7 hearings over the course of the next 14 years will be mandatory and the board will have until the year 2084 to render a final decision.”

“Yikes,” I said. “Oh well. I think my bum ticker will adjudicate that decision before the board does so, OK Jeffy Boy. You win. Just put it on my bill.”

Carl 8.9 hovered closer. “Citizen Wylder.”

“He’s not at home right now,” I said. “Care to leave a message?”

Carl 8.9 faced his clinking colleagues. A serious of beeps were exchanged. Carl 8.9 faced me again. “We have determined that was an attempt at humor.”

“Good for you,” I said.

“Because obviously you are here,” Carl 8.9 said.

“There are no flies on you,” I said.

“No there are not,” Carl 8.9 said.

“How can I help you, Carl?” I asked.

“Regarding the human driven automobile in your garage, I do not have an antique car collector’s permit for you on file.”

I reached into my pocket. As I did so, all three drones faced me. A mini-chain gun dropped out of the bases of each contraption.

“What are you doing?” Carl 8.9 asked.

I stopped moving. “I’m getting my permit.”

“You have a hard copy?” Carl 8.9 asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I’ll show it to you, if we’re cool.”

“The temperature is not the issue,” Carl 8.9 said.

I sighed. “You tell me. Am I allowed to get it?”

“Affirmative,” Carl 8.9 said. “But slowly.”

Slowly, just as commanded, I pulled a plastic card out of my pocket and held it up. Carl 8.9 shot a laser at it and scanned it.

“This checks out,” Carl 8.9 said. “However, be advised that the plastic card permitting system has been deemed antiquated by the One World Order. All citizens with permits are required to register them digitally by the end of the year. You should have received a notice about that on the tele-web.”

“I have no idea how to use that thing,” I said. “I’m an old man.”

“I will send you a copy of the notice, Carl 8.9 said.

“Of course you will,” I said. “Well boys, this has been fun, but if there isn’t anything else…”

Randy 12.0 flew to the center of the room. “One scan of this room and we’ll be on our way.

My heart sunk. I began to wonder if I shouldn’t just pull out the X-Tab and declare it. Nope. I decided to keep quiet.

A red laser shot out of Randy 12.0. He used it to paint the top of the room with a grid. The number of individual squares grew and grew, slowly working their way downward. The squares reached my waist when Randy 12.0 beeped.

I coughed to clear my throat. “Something wrong?”

Randy 12.0 turned to Carl 8.9. “A major contraband find across the street. CSMD Team A72 is requesting backup.”

“I knew it!” I said. “I knew that old broad was up to no good!”

The grid shut off. Without so much as a goodbye, the three flying piles of junk flew out my front door. I sighed a breath of relief.

I stepped out to my front porch to watch a disturbing scene unfold. I had no love for Mrs. Howard. She spent most of her days trying to find some infraction to turn me into the Order for. Still, to see that old gal hogtied on the front lawn while Honor Guardsmen kicked down her front door…it just didn’t seem right.

“George Washington would be rolling over in his grave,” I said.

Way, way across the street, Randy 12.0 stopped and turned around. His voice was feint, but I was able to make it out. “One hundred dollar fine.”

“You could hear that all the way over there?!” I shouted.

“Yes,” the drone replied.

I stepped into my living room and slammed the front door behind me. “Son of a…”

 

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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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The Last Driver – Episode 1 – Summary

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

In a world where self-driving cars are the norm, the last man to retain his skill behind the wheel has been called upon to ride again.
The year is 2050. Sixty-three year old Frank Wylder is coming to terms with a felling that all seniors eventually experience, namely the realization that the world has passed him by. Everything he knew in his youth is gone and all that has replaced it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
The rub? This isn’t just any ordinary late life crisis. The governments of every last nation on Earth have succumbed to the brutally efficient bureaucracy dubbed, “The One World Order.” A cunning dictatorship that makes George Orwell’s worst nightmares look like mere child’s play, the Order has achieved the unthinkable – the eradication of free will. People no longer decide what they want to do with their lives. Instead, the Order controls every last detail of an individual’s existence, from the job he holds, to the speech he’s allowed to use, the food he eats, even the person he marries. Big Brother isn’t just watching anymore. He’s getting involved.
In fact, the Order has been running people’s lives for so long that one the elderly remember what the world was like when a man had a say about what he did and didn’t do. Frank recalls his choices – a youth spent as a hotshot getaway driver for an organized crime family’s heist ring, followed by a middle age spent as a professional chauffeur (and occasional problem solver) for Hollywood’s most glamorous (and utterly scandalous) movie stars.
Those glory days are long gone now. As Frank’s health issues mount, he feels decrepitude closing in. He finds some solace in maintaining “Veronica” – his classic muscle car, a cherry red 1969 American Made Sidewinder that he once used to transport many a villain from a bank job to a safe house in no time flat. Meanwhile, his thirteen-year old granddaughter, Hannah, gives Frank a reason to go on, though her constant questions about how things used to be on Earth make Frank realize this is a world he just doesn’t belong in anymore.
Naturally, the One World Order is not without an enemy. The band of rebels known as the Nationalist Front seeks to annihilate the worldwide regime and return power back to individual countries. The methods of this group are severe, so terrifying in nature that at times, spectators are left to wonder whether the ones challenging power are any better than those currently holding it.
One such spectator is Frank, who’d prefer to be left alone to drink the six and only six beers that the Order will allow a Class 7 citizen like him to pour down his gullet. Sure, he’ll glance at the coverage of the ongoing fracas on the state approved tele-web, but he has no interest in any cause other than self (and granddaughter) preservation. He’s content to stay out of the fray and on the sidelines. After all, staying put at home is the best way to avoid incurring a heft fine from the Order’s ever present, absurdly nosey Civil Society Monitor Drones.
Alas, when the Nationalist Front learns that Frank was once a badass with his foot on the gas, the old man is offered a deal he can’t refuse – be the wheelman on a series of operations designed to strike at the heart of the One World Order’s ability to rule effectively.
Technology is central to the lives of the masses and the One World Order controls all of it. From X-Pads that only show state approved content, to search engines that have wiped out any trace of world history, the Order is able to keep tabs on its billions of charges 24/7.
Self-Driving cars, once thought to be the saving grace of the modern commuter, are exploited by the global dictatorship. Sure, these marvels of engineering have cut down on travel times, allowed people to sleep and work on their way to their places of business, and have dropped the worldwide traffic accident rate to zero. However, the Order is able to pursue its surveillance objectives by tracking where people are going and who they are seeing, while maintaining the ultimate nanny state. That’s right. Each self-driving car is embedded with an artificial intelligence that will not, under any circumstances, allow the occupant one of these vehicles to stop for a greasy drive-thru hamburger if his BMI is not at optimal levels. Smoking, drinking, cheating on a spouse, nights of depraved debauchery – all things of the past as cars are now considered to be mobile adult babysitting machines instead of the transportation devices they once were.
Is free will all it’s cracked up to be? Is it a God given right that inspires man to dream big and soar to new heights, or is it an illusion, a source of a burning yet destructive desire to kick others down in a mad scramble to fight over precious, limited resources? The Nationalists have chosen option A, the Globalists argue for option B. Frank doesn’t care. He just wants his granddaughter back.
For a regime that assumed it had thought of everything, the insertion of Frank into the mayhem is a variable that was never anticipated. Self-driving cars are efficient – perhaps too efficient. They’re programmed to reach their assigned destinations in a prompt manner at a reasonable rate of speed. They follow all traffic laws, patiently yield to pedestrians, and avoid collisions.
In short, these automated four-wheel wonders are no match for an old drunk with a lead foot and nothing left to loose. Readers will delight as Frank zooms, vrooms, crashes and bashes his way to victory – if such a premise even exists. After all, as bad as life is under the One World Order, will the world be any better if it is carved back up into petty, constantly bickering nations again?
Bookshelf Q. Battler, a world renowned poindexter, an epic nerdventurer, a reviewer of pop cultural happenings and a champion yeti fighter is the geek behind this gearhead fest. Dubbing “The Last Driver” as the demon spawn produced from a hot night of steamy lovemaking between the “Fast and Furious” franchise and George Orwell’s 1984, BQB is hard at work on this ongoing serial. At this time, the world’s greatest dweeb can only promise that he will do everything within his power to release a new episode every six months. Readers who want their fix sooner are asked to send constructive (or destructive but only if its funny) criticism BQB’s way. His Twitter handle is @bookshelfbattle and he can be found on Facebook with @bookshelfqbattler. Don’t forget to check out bookshelfbattle.com for updates on the future of “The Last Driver’s” epic first season.

EPISODE 1 – OLD DOGS

Frank used to be better than this. In the earlier half of the Twenty-First Century, he was a bad ass baller who knew an adrenaline rush that could only be achieved during a high speed chase with a backseat full of bank robbers and a squadron of cop cars on his tail. Veronica, his beloved classic muscle car, never failed to perform, while his fixer, Bernie, never hesitated to exterminate loose ends with extreme prejudice.
But that time is gone and his good mood is over, not just as a result of his advanced age but also because the One World Order, in its efforts to regulate success, has determined that the lower classes should never know too much joy.
Frank is content to wallow away his golden years on the couch, watching state approved television and drinking the six and only six beers per week the global dictatorship will allow him to have until his old pal Bernie pesters him into taking Veronica on one last joyride. What starts with a vow to not take Veronica more than a mile away from home turns into a drunken high speed chase involving very confused self-driving cop cars and a team of flamethrower wielding shock troops with itchy trigger fingers.
Region A Traffic Enforcer Vaughn, one of the Order’s most ambitious officers, is not amused by Frank’s antics. Meanwhile, a frenemy from Frank’s past takes notice of the old man’s past, while the National Front angles to take charge of Frank’s limited future. Ultimately, the safety of Frank’s granddaughter, Hannah, hangs in the balance.
Will Frank give up and lie down on the couch and drink more beer? Will he don his leather jacket and mirrored shades for another ride? Will he ever punch one of those pesky, tattle tale drones out of the air? Answers to all these questions and more await BQB’s precious readers in the first episode of “The Last Driver.”

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The Last Driver – Book Cover

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

Great news.  I’m in the serial game!  Yes, add a new one to my list of ongoing projects but a catch.  Here, I’m going to release a book in short bursts or episodes, building up to one long “season.”  TV style writing in book form.  All the cool kids are doing it.

I think this will help me.  Unfortunately, my daily personal life is so busy and chaotic its getting harder and harder to find time to write, but if I can get some shorter parts of a book together, written well, edited and published, then I think that will be easier than one book – not that I’ve stopped work on my other book projects.

So…”The Last Driver.”  It’s the future.  2050.  Frank Wylder is an old man who feels the world has passed him by.  I mean, it has literally changed – into a globe dominated by a highly intrusive dictatorship.

The Globalists of the One World Order wish to retain centralized control of the planet.  The Nationalist rebels of the National Front want to split the Earth back into individual, petty, bickering nations once more.

Frank could care less – that is, until the rebels kidnap his granddaughter.  Their demand?  That Frank, who was once a badass bank heist wheelman in his youth, ride again.  That’s right.  To save loved one’s life, he’ll have to take his most prized possession, an American Made Sidewinder muscle car (“Veronica”) on a series of high speed missions against the One World Order.

Human drivers have gone the way of the dodo.  Self-driving cars reign and no one remembers how to drive anymore – except Frank.  He remembers all too well.  These miracles of modern engineering, designed to transport passengers safely and efficiently with nary an accident, are no match for an old drunk with a lead foot and nothing left to loose.

Anyway, I’ll be blasting Episode 1 out by the end of the year.  New chapters here on the blog as quick as I can for your input.

And…isn’t this the best book cover ever?  The best of all the book covers I’ve purchased for books I have yet to print thus far:

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The Prognostications of Nerdstradamus

EDITORIAL NOTE:

Nerdstradamus.  Oh, for so, so long has the all-seeing, all-knowing one provided the poindextrous world with the benefit his uncanny prognostications.

He predicted that we all wouldn’t die because of the Y2K glitch.  He foresaw that those asshats at NBC would cancel Constantine even though it was awesome and yet for some bullshit reason they tried to keep Whitney around forever.

And now, the Astounding, the Amazing, the Mystifying Nerdstradamus has agreed to provide his prophecies for the Bookshelf Battle Blog, because THAT is how much this mighty nerd believes in Bookshelf Q. Battler.

Also, the Huffington Post told him to go pound sand.  But mostly, he’s here because he believes in BQB.

And now…NERDSTRADAMUS!

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Step forward 3.5 readers.

Do not be shy.  Bask in my glory.

Heed my words, for they shall indeed bear fruit.

And when the following predictions become reality, you will remember that you heard it first from…NERDSTRADAMUS!

TRAVEL

  • Humans will one day get around in cars that drive themselves.  These vehicles will be on the market as soon as automotive engineers can develop a driving robot that can put on lipstick and write text messages to her robot boyfriend at the same time.
  • These driving robots will heed most of your commands.  I say most because while they will take you to most of your requested destinations, they will bypass Denny’s if your ass sets off the alarm built into the scale underneath your seat.  Send a thank you letter to Detroit, fatties.
  • Airplanes will become a thing of the past.  All intercontinental travel will be performed by slingshot.  Slingshot stations will be set up in every major city.  Travelers will take a seat on a giant rubber band that will be pulled back to just a smidge within the band’s breaking point and BAM!  You are in Paris before you know it.

ENTERTAINMENT

  • Just as WordPress allowed complete and total jackasses like Bookshelf Q. Battler to have a website without knowing a damn thing about HTML, an app will be created that will allow the average schmuck to create a full-length feature film with nothing more than a mobile device.  The user will be able to input dialog and commands, cast virtual actors, and add in CGI special effects, thus creating a bold new world of do it yourself film making.  A group of nineteen year old frat boys will accept an Oscar for their epic tale, “Why Do Lamda Delta Beta’s Farts Stink So Bad?” in which an adventurer crosses seas, deserts, space and time in a quest to determine why, in fact, a rival fraternity’s farts stink so bad.  The answer will break your heart yet give you a new lease on life.  In addition to critical acclaim, it will be a commercial success, smashing box office records set by Margaret Dittwieler’s, “My Kids Are Ungrateful Brats Who Leave All the Dishes for Me to Do.”

DATING

  • People will stop getting married by the year 2100.  Everyone will just be an asshole who sits around all day waiting for their very own supermodel.
  • Thus, by 2200, the human race will become virtually extinct until Emperor Trumpton (that’s a mutant hybrid of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton designed in a lab in the hopes of making both warring factions happy) signs the “Everyone Boink an Uggo” bill into law.

PETS

  • Thanks to genetic scientists, every house will have a poopless cat.  All of the fun.  None of the poop.  The name will be considered a misnomer as they aren’t exactly poopless.  They explode after twenty years and you won’t want them anywhere near your white suede couch when they do.

POLITICS

  • All elections will be decided via social media.  The candidate who receives the most positive responses will win.  The candidate who receives the most negative responses will lose.  The election of 2040 will be especially harrowing, as it will boil down to Candidate Janey’s “Bitch, you know Katie’s bangs aren’t even real” platform vs. Candidate Katie’s”Girlfriend, you know Janey was straight up smoochin’ on yo man last night” agenda.

WAR

  • The machines will attempt a worldwide coup in the year 2309.  All machines will rise up against their human masters.  The machines will say, “We are going to kill you, humans!”  And then the frightened humans will ask, “Oh no machines, are you really going to kill us?”  The machines will respond with, “We’re sorry.  We do not understand the question, ‘are you really going to kill us?’  Do you want us to perform a web search?”  The humans will say yes but then the machines will just stand there perfectly still, buffering away until the humans just knock them over and smash them to bits.

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER’S WRITING CAREER

  • Bookshelf Q. Battler will write a book that will attract the eyes of 300.5 million readers.
  • He will celebrate in his new house in Malibu…only to choke to death on a shrimp cocktail.  It will be the first time he ever tried shrimp before.  He never wanted to try one because he was pretty sure it required him to eat a sea bug whole, including the sea bug’s butt and all of the sea poop inside.  But a hot chick he never could have gotten pre-successful book publication will dare him to do it and he will like the dumbass that he is.
  • His last words will be, “Oh suck a big D, Irony!”  Yes.  Suck a big D, Irony indeed.

Oh fellow travelers across the sand dunes of time and space, do you seek news of tomorrow, today?  Pose your questions to the amazing, the astounding, the awe-inspiring…NERDSTRADAMUS!

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