Tight Bookshelves
rating: +15+x

A flash of narrative color flooded the Department Of Pataphysics at Site-87, and a woman stepped out of a copy of The Combined Works Of William Shakespeare. She sighed heavily, and set down her numerous copies of old Scottish law scripts on her faux mahogany desk with an equally heavy thump.

"Fuuuuuuucking hell…" Researcher Kimba Laslow tore off her coat, pulled the hairband out of her blonde ponytail, and searched for the closest available soft furnishing to sink herself into. She had just mediated a legal dispute between H.R.H. King Duncan of Scotland, and Katniss Everdeen of District 12, after their narratives were mushed together by way of a heavy suitcase being set on top. It was a scenario she was used to: most people fail to realize that book covers aren't infallible, and that narratives can become connected if enough external pressure is applied.

"How was she gonna know the difference between a rabbit in District 12 and a rabbit in Dunsinane?"

She paused for a second, got up, and pulled The Hunger Games out of the Fiction Press (In reality just a very colorful flower press with "Department Of Pataphysics - Do Not Touch" on top in permanent marker, but it did the job.) The narrative link was severed, and both the books were put on the desk, well away from each other and soon to be returned to their rightful owner. She stopped to stare at the off-white ceiling, gave the book a moment to settle back down, grabbed it again, and opened it to a random page.

"Thank you." Katniss sighed, stepping into the familiar, if humble interior of her home.


Two returned books, and one extended lecture on the dangers of tight bookshelves later…

And she was sitting down in the Site-87 cafeteria, rereading the tale of Scout and Atticus Finch for the 6th time this month in between mouthfuls of pumpkin soup. For such a well read book, it was in surprisingly immaculate condition, especially considering how much The Narrative liked to drench, stain or shred her other books through multiple unfortunate events. She had a localized monsoon douse Fahrenheit 451 yesterday. In the middle of summer. Through her raincoat.

"How many times are you going to read that thing?" A fiery-haired woman queried, and sat herself in a white plastic chair across from the lonely pataphysicist.

"Until I get bored of it, or I can fiction-jump into it unaided. Why do you care anyway, Kat?"

"Sinclair, pleas-"

"Too much effort," Kimba groaned, sinking into the table. "Two syllables is too much."

Dr. Sinclair paused for a moment, mulling it over in her head whether to let the tired girl go, or chase the matter further. "…Fiction-jumping unaided, huh? As I understand it, that's very ambitious." Naturally, she didn't understand it in the slightest.

"Not really. If you can read it well enough, fiction-jumping is easy peasy lemon squeezy. It's not altering the text while you're in there that's difficult difficult lemon difficult."

"difficult difficult… lemon difficult?" She whispered to herself. She was told pataphysicists were strange, but this took the cake. "So, how's the research going?"

"Haven't been able to do any, too many tight bookshelves that needed fixing. Don Quixote went on a crusade in Howlett's office, and I just had to tell King Duncan that when somebody from another book accidentally hunts on your land they don't deserve the death penalty."

"Well, at least everyone knows now, you're all settled in, and you can start doing what you came here to do, no?"

A noncommittal noise that was roughly equivalent to a "sorta" was made, and the conversation tailed off, one participant lost in prose again. Katherine pulled the book away from her and reinserted the bookmark, setting the paper sandwich down on the table.

"Come on, talk to me… I don't know, take me to Hogwarts or something, that would be amazing!"

"You just wanna steal books and yell at Snape." Kimba retorted.

"Well… Yes, but…" The pataphysicist was correct, but the thaumatologist didn't want to admit it. "Come on, come play poker with us tonight or something. You won't make any friends if you're always buried in Lee or Bradbury."

"I still have to fix your… Werewolf book and your anatomy book, Kat."

Dr. Sinclair proceeded to turn a shade of red. She had no idea Kimba knew about her copy of Bram Stroker. She didn't want her to know for a while.

"Why are you blushing? My girlfriend's a werewolf."

A slight sense of relief came to Katherine in the knowledge Kimba understood her a little, but she was embarrassed all the same. "I thought you lived alone?"

"Yeah, she's in Eventide. Long distance. Don't worry Kat-"

"Sinclair."

"-Sinclair," She conceded. "Your secret's safe with me."


"I… I love you, but…" She bit her prochellion, not sure what to say. She knew that such a love would be forbidden, but the sweet swelling feeling in her sternum told her that to leave such a fine specimen of both homo sapiens and canis lupus would tear her apart1.

"Yes, my dear? Is it my… Wild tendencies that upset you?" His muscular2 canine form bristled, breath frosting the air3 as it left his bronchii. He-

"SIR!" Wait, what? The sound of flicking pages from a distance. Umm… Fair skin, blonde hair, hazel eyes… ch-ch-ch-ch-chhhhh… No, madam, I don't believe this is your part yet.

"Mr. Narrator, I'm not from this book. I'm from outside." Oh! Well, why didn't you say so?

"Who's she?" The buxom young female jutted in before leaving the "Aww, c'mo" LEAVING THE SCENE. This is a matter for the Narrator alone. The young lady walked away, her lupine lover padding close behind.

"Uhh… Thanks. Well, You're the Narrator of Gray's Anatomy, yes?" Indeed I am, young madam. I believe you've stumbled upon the reproduction pag- "Well, actually, to put it bluntly, this isn't your book. This is a romance novel called…" She falter- "You don't need to narrate me, pataphysical laws don't affect me the same as the inhabitants of this book. Now, as I was saying, you've stumbled into a book called… Licked By The Lupine Lover, by… Bram Stroker. Not Stoker, Stroker."

The sound of retching. A-Apologies, madam, that explains an awful lot. I believe I must be on my way then. "Yeah, I'm sure there's a horny American accent out there getting very confused about the structure of the brain a few pages over. If you could pass on the info please? That would be lovely." Of course, I do believe I'll be going then. Farewell

"Well, nothing left to do here…"


Katherine Sinclair set down her copy of Goblet Of Fire, trying to find the optimal chapter, sentence and word to jump into so as to nab a copy of Ancient Runes Made Easy… Maybe the Standard Book Of Spells, A Guide To Adanced Transfiguration… But her daydreams of being a powerful witch would have to wait: it was almost time for poker night. She rose, and walked to the door with a purse reasonably full of money, and a sense of determination this time. No more would low cards screw her over this evening, it was her time.

Her footsteps click-clacked down the hallways, seemingly endless reams of sterile white wallpaper rolling past her. Suddenly, a bluster of wind struck her from her right.

"And who do you think you are, outsider?" Sinclair paused, turning towards the source of the muffled sound. Department of Pataphysics. Was she really still in… that book? The flat white door creaked at Katherine's touch, before being blown around it's hinge to slam against the hallway, eliciting a yelp of fear from the thaumatologist.

A narrative tornado sat in the center of the dark wood-paneled room. Pages were flying everywhere, books desperately clung to their shelves, and lampshades writhed in fear. The tempest appeared to center on a single book lying open on the floor. The title, Sinclair could not discern, but judging from the sounds coming from within, it was medieval, and there were a lot of swords.

"I AM LADY LASLOW OF THE PIT! AND THIS… IS A KNIFE." There were a lot of clinking noises, and Sinclair felt compelled to step closer. The wind whipped at her hair, and she looked down through the eye of the conceptual storm. Was that… Nigella Lawson? It was hard to tell. There was egg everywhere, and the butter-knife wielding Laslow clashed with the cook, who was equipped with a cake tin hat and appeared to be using a wooden spoon as a lance atop a collection of spaghetti strands in the shape of a horse.

"KIMBA?!" The pataphysicist looked up in response, deftly deflecting a kneading attempt by her adversary.

"Sinclair! Umm… Can you help? There should be a fountain pen on my desk with a button on it!'

"HANG ON!" There were many fountain pens. Red ones, blue ones, gold ones, black ones, one that had colour changing LEDs in it, and enough anomalous pens to deserve their own log. But one took pride of place, made of an exquisite smooth smoky quartz, with gold highlighting and nib, and a little crystal that she only guessed could be a button embedded in the end. She grabbed it from it's resting place. "FOUND IT!"

"That's the one! Chuck it down here!" She made a grabbing motion with one hand as she waved a newly found cake-pop-pike-ball around wildly, keeping the dark haired woman at bay.

Sinclair threw the pen down into the paper realm, and time seemed to stand still.





















A perfect catch! Kimba smiled at Nigella, and pressed the precious stone on the end of her pen. Narrative colour spilled over the room, and in an instant both women were flat on their faces on the wooden floor, breathing heavily as Simply Nigella slammed shut.

"Thanks Ka- Sinclair."

The thaumatologist smiled at the floor. The floor didn't smile back. "Katherine's fine, I guess. Pardon my french… But what the fuck was up, with that cookbook?"

"…Nothing." The strange woman giggled. "They're all like that."


Three minutes of dusting themselves off, Two burritos and One bottle of Coke later…

"Call."

"Call."

"Raise 10." A tell, index finger rubbed over thumbnail. Pike picked it up in an instant, naturally.

"Raise 20." Laslow was anxious, to say the least, but three of a kind was a good hand. She saw the eagle-like look in Cassandra's eyes. She had picked up some sort of tell from Bailey, but there was a drop of fear in there as well…

"Kimba? You gonna go, or not?" Resolve formed in her as the tension in the room hit it's peak. Might as well live dangerously.

"…Screw it, raise 50." A cacophony erupted, before deadening in an instant, waiting for Tristan's reaction. 4 pairs of eyes pierced daggers through the back of his cards.

"…Fold." More yelling, then more silence, occasionally dispersed by the clacking of betting chips together by Dr. Sinclair in a sort of mock drumroll.

"…" Cassandra's eyes passed around the table, to the pot, to her cards, to Kimba, back again. The tension was palpable, but her poker face remained dead straight.

"…"

It then shattered into a million pieces as she cracked a smile. "Fold." Utter madness descended as the pataphysicist squeaked like a mouse, revealed her three sevens and raked in the rest of the pot, a neat $60, less her large contribution in the final round. Pike turned over a full house, eights full of fives. Tristan had junk. "You're actually… pretty good!"

"Not at all, you just don't know my tells yet," She giggled. "I'm a nervous wreck when money's involved." She smiled to herself, knowing The Narrative probably had something to do with this turn of events. A few minutes passed of excited chatter, the occasional clink! of a glass, and a bit of good old-fashioned playing for matchsticks. No-one wanted to lose money anymore. Everyone was fine with that.

"So, not to be rude, I know the work you're doing is important and all, but…" Tristan finally piped up mid round with a question he'd been meaning to ask all evening. "We've never had to deal with all these 'fiction crossings' before you showed up. Is it you? Or…?" His two aces frowned at him. This might not have been a great time to ask. Kimba didn't mind though.

"I don't know, honestly. Part of me thinks it's just the nexus adapting to my presence, giving me things to do. Another part of me thinks that maybe I am bringing some sort of disturbance." She shrugged. "I dunno. I mean, every time a character gets introduced in a story, something has to happen to make their presence known, right?" She nonchalantly chucked two matchsticks in, not bothering to announce her call.

"Don't ask me, it's your area of expertise."

"Well, either way, I don't mind the extra work. I get to know all the dirty secrets, cool fictional characters, guilty pleasure reads…" Sinclair blushed again. Everyone else laughed. "And all the people who don't take proper care of books." She stated with a bizarre mixture of glee and malice. Sarcasm didn't quite describe it as the table fell silent like before, but for a very different reason.

"…"

"So, who wants to go to Hogwarts?"

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