Shelf Life: episode 1. “A name”
There is power in a name; a magic as old as the first stories of men, where tales of heroic deeds were weaved around the dancing embers of a campfire beneath the stars. All stories are made of magic and what is a name afterall but a very old story. My name is Maximillion Voncheerypants and this is my story.
I was like a memory unborn. I was a thing without time or purpose that existed only for the the infinity of possibility that could be my ultimate destiny. I was numbness in a box until a name breathed life into my soul.
“We’ll call him Max!” I heard a voice call out, and there was light.
Before me stood four, towering giants. There were two big giants and two bigger giants.
“Max…” I said to myself, “that is my name.”
The giants each gazed upon me with grotesque, giant smiles. Having only been alive for a few seconds, my ability to take stock of the situation was rather limited but I was relatively certain that these giants were going to eat me. I decided to play it cool and not move.
The giants apparently came in matching sets. There was a big one and a small one with thin faces and long yellow hair and there was a big one and a small one with round faces and short brown hair.
I took in every detail, desperately assessing the danger that I appeared to be in. The small ones looked to be hungry but there was something oddly comforting about their lingering gaze; something reverential. The bigger ones smiled too but it wasn’t nearly as believable as their tiny clones. I made a mental note that it was likely the bigger giants which I would have to beware of.
“Mommy look!” Said the small one with yellow hair. “A book!”
I snuck a peak while their attention was diverted and saw that the small giant was correct, there was a book.
It’s a peculiar thing, blinking into existence like I did. There was much that I didn’t know, like for instance my name or why I was here before these matching sets of giants. Yet there was much I discovered that I did know, like for instance the fact that the picture on the cover of this book was a picture of me.
The giants lumbered off into another room with the book for a short time and then only the small ones returned. Where once they were joyously reverential, they were now almost awestruck and afraid. They approached me cautiously, close enough that I could feel the warmth of their breath upon my toes. The brown haired one then reached out a single finger towards me and I was sure that he was going to snatch me up and gobble me down but the yellow haired one slapped his hand away at the last moment.
“Dont touch!” She said. “You read the book. He’ll tell Santa and we wont get any Christmas presents!”
“Santa…” I thought to myself. “Now that’s an oddly familiar name.”
The giants ran off then and the rest of the day was a tiresome blur of commotion.
I learned that the big ones were called Mom and Dad and the little ones were called Jake and Haley
There was a lot of noise, including singing, shouting, crying and squealing. I met another giant with four legs who covered me with something slimy from his cold black nose. His name was Buddy.
I sat all day atop a shelf opposite a window where I could see the warm glow of the outside world. Later on, I watched it fade and there was a moment, a brief but brilliant moment where the light that had shone so effortlessly seemed to yell one final battle cry and then explode into a million, almost graspable pieces of golden illumination. And then it was dark.
I hadn’t moved an inch and I hadn’t been eaten. The smaller giants approached me one last time and they wished me goodnight before scurrying away, giggling as they seemed to always do. I listened as the bigger giants mulled around for a bit until they too grew silent.
I had, it seemed, survived the day.
Feeling safe now, for the first time in my brief existence, my eyes began to grow heavy with sleep. I thought perhaps that I would stretch out and maybe find a more comfortable spot when suddenly I heard a ringing coming from my bright red tights.
I moved my hand for the first time in my life and retrieved the noise making thing from my pocket. It was a slim, metal box with a digital screen that was displaying a bright yellow button. I pushed the button and my entire world was suddenly sucked inside out.
I felt as if my outsides had been tucked under my insides and then hurled into space. I thought for sure that whatever I had done was to be my ultimate undoing until at the very brink of what torture I could withstand, everything stopped.
There was breath in my lungs and there was ground below my feet. I looked to my left and I looked to my right and there were hundreds of people who looked exactly like me, all in various but similar states of unease and discomfort. Suddenly there was a shrill, whistling noise towards my front and I noticed for the first time that there was a stage made of semi translucent blue ice. Another man, who looked like me but was wearing all black strutted out confidently. The crowd drew silent, as if we were all transfixed by the same spell. The man walked with a sort of purpose that I couldn’t help but to envy. He approached a podium and he cleared his throat.
“Hello, new recruits.” He said. “Welcome to Shelf school.”