Write for Your Life, Biff Mitchell, Write for Your Life

I’ve lost track of the days. It feels like that time I blinked and missed it all, it seems like re-reading Atlas Shrugged and forgetting what page I’m on – over and over. A kind of existential medium is the message. I’ve lost track of my mind. I’m staring at ice patterns on the window.

Steph hat-5

Stephanie is watching me, waiting for me to do something the doctor told me not to do, waiting for me to make a dash for the window and the fire escape, waiting for me to breathe too deeply. She takes the doctor’s orders seriously.

She just found Monte Python’s Life of Brian on Netflix and she’s going to play it. She can quote every word from Life of Brian and Search for the Holy Grail. I’ve seen her do it. It takes true talent and a good memory to memorize an entire movie and recite it convincingly, being all the characters at any moment in all their moods and all their little fears and fantasies.

And she can do this for two movies.

Before she put the movie on, she made a strange request. She said, “I want you to write a story.”

I said, “A story?”

She said, “Yes, Biff, and when you finish writing the story…I want you to write another story. And then another story, and another.”

“But the doctor said…”

“The doctor wants you to write stories, Biff. One story after another. Only through writing stories will you heal.”

Suddenly, I was suspicious. Something wasn’t right here. Something was awry. It was like everything in my world had shifted almost imperceptibly a few pixels to the left. It reminded me of a story I’d written a few years ago for one of the Twisted Tails anthologies called The Man Who Was a Few Pixels Out.

And that’s when it hit me. Twisted Tails. The insidious soul-eating J Richard Jacobs was somehow involved in all this. J Richard Jacobs, scourer of the perverse literary horizon and nemesis of all things sane and merciful in the dank corridors of writers’ hearts and minds. J Richard Jacobs, EDITOR, was on the loose again and the game was on.

Somehow he’d taken over Stephanie’s mind and this was going to bode ill for me, the lowly writer. I screamed: “Steph! J has taken over your mind!”

Her eyes were devoid of humanity and caring as she stared into my eyes and said, “No, Biff, I’m doing this all on my own. You will follow the doctor’s orders or I will kill you. It’s all for your own good.” She patted me on the head and went into the kitchen to make graffiti salad and somehow the world seemed to be a safer place to live.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the drugs I’m on to carry me safely and sanely through the recovery.

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100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – The Final Episode (More Than Just the Candles)

(Previously, the fireworks were the least of Lucy and Daniel’s problems. And a cat got blown up. Today, Wilbur and Amanda get to be the last two people blown up. And, apparently, it’s all Wilbur’s fault.)

Today’s gratuitous photo is leaves in a tree. I mean, where else?)

Leaves copy

“Honestly, Amanda, this isn’t what I had it mind.” It was impossible to say where Wilbur’s words came from, their source and their direction. Wilbur wasn’t Wilbur anymore. Amanda wasn’t Amanda. And it really didn’t matter what Wilbur had in mind. Both were ingredients in a fiery stew of atomic displacement, their atoms reeling and doing things that were considered abnormal in polite society. But then, polite society was pretty much no more as well.

“This is not my idea of a good time.” Amanda’s words were equally as puzzling as Wilbur’s. Where did they come from? Amanda is no more. Who was listening. Wilbur is no more. Didn’t Amanda and Wilbur have bigger things to worry about? Shouldn’t what’s left of their words be wrapped around prayers or something?

“I wanted this to be a romantic experience for both of us,” denoted Wilbur from everywhere and nowhere. “That’s why I filled the house with candles. It took me half an hour to light them all.”

“And now look at us.” As though there was anything recognizable enough to look at.

“But, Amanda, I honestly don’t think this had anything to do with the candles.”

“Just like you, Wilbur, never take responsibility for your actions.”

The disdain in Amanda’s words burned into whatever flux of consciousness Wilbur had become like an existential slap to his disintegrating selfness. “But this is not what candles do, Amanda. Not even a house full of candles. This is not what it feels like to be burned to death by candles burning a house down. This is definitely something else.”

“And how would you know what it feels like to be burned to death by candles, Wilbur. You’ve never been burned to death by candles. I would have known about it.”

“No, Amanda, I’ve never been burned to death by candles. But I’ve imagined being burned to death by candles. I imagined it while I was a lighting all the candles. After half an hour of lighting candles, you begin to have odd thoughts. And I can tell you right know, Amanda, this is not what it feels like to be burned to death by candles. This is something else.”

“This is YOU, Wilbur. This is another one of your failures. My mother told me you would do this some day. She warned me. “You’ll just get burned if you…

___

And that’s it. I blew up 100 people, 10 bats and 1 cat. But once you start blowing people up, it becomes kind of a thing to do…like eating a whole cheese cake in one sitting because it’s cheese cake and there’s still some left so you eat it. But I’m currently writing a short story that keeps getting longer as I write it (as in, it should have ended a few thousand words ago) called “Everything Sucks.” When it’s finished, I think I’ll blow up another 100 people. And 10 of something. And 1 of something else.

In the meantime, I have some really crazyass novels at Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 27 (Those Irritating Fireworks)

(Previously, Cora kind of regretted not getting her project sent off in time, but the coffee was good. Today, the fireworks are the least of Lucy and Daniel’s problems. And, Alvin, the cat bites the dust. As promised in the title.)

Today’s gratuitous photo is a lonely child’s shoe. Sometimes, I feel a deep sense of joy in knowing that I’m not a shoe.)

Shoe lost-2 copy

Alvin screeched and shot straight up into the air, fur standing on end, claws tearing at the air and, oh, that awful cat-terror screech. This had a domino effect. Lucy poured half a cup of green tea onto her white blouse and Daniel’s lighter missed his cigarette enough to set his mustache of fire. The walls of the Mueller home resounded with screeches of terror and pain.

Outside the huge Mueller living room picture window, the sky exploded with color. A burst of glittering red showered the sky with scarlet comets that in turn burst into a shower of smaller comets. Behind the red, a golden mushroom exploded into the sky with an ear-shattering BOOM. Not three seconds after Alvin landed on the floor, he was clawing up Lucy’s tea sodden white blouse leaving a trail of blood spots where his claws tore through the blouse and into Lucy’s skin. Lucy shrieked. Alvin crouched on top of her head, claws digging into her forehead causing tiny rivulets of blood to stream down over her eyebrows. Seven feet away, Daniel slapped his face vigorously, trying to put out the flame in his mustache.

Half an hour later, Lucy and Daniel sat in their cozy arm chairs fuming. The bandages on Lucy’s forehead showed signs of blood spotting. The left side of Daniel’s upper lip glistened with salve. Alvin crouched in a corner of the room, glaring at life.

“I don’t understand what they get out of it,”said Daniel, both arms prone on the arms of the chair. “They send a bunch of colored lights into the sky and make a lot of ungodly noise.”

“It’s what they do here and it’s a…a nuisance,” said Lucy, both arms wrapped around her chest, as though hunkering down for an attack. “A damn nuisance.”

“They pollute the air with chemicals and noise,” said Daniel indignantly. “Waste of time and money.”

“And they do it every year.”

“All that noise.”

“And it can’t be good for children’s eyes.”

“And their necks…all that looking up…straining the muscles.”

“And the noise. Poor Alvin.” Though, there was a trace of insincerity in Lucy’s voice as she tightened her grip around her chest, still in pain from the clawing from Alvin.

“We may have to get help for Alvin.” Daniel looked at Alvin, eyes fomenting sympathy. “I’ve heard that traumatic episodes like this can scar animals for life.”

“And think of all the children…all those poor children waking up horrified from their sleep to the sound of that thunder. I don’t even want to think about what it does to infants.”

“Thank God it’s just once a year.”

“It shouldn’t even be once a year. Maybe once every hundred years.”

“On a desert island.”

“Far away from here.”

“Far away from the children.”

“And the infants.”

“And Alvin.” Daniel cocked his head to the side and squinted his eyes.

“What is it, dear?” said Lucy.

“I’m not sure, my dear. Did you hear something?”

“I don’t think so…” Lucy suddenly squinted her eyes. “I think…”

Alvin thrust his head up. His eyes widened into white circles.

“I think they’ve gone a bit far this time,” said Daniel’s mouth as it rocketed away from his head.

“The nerve of those…” said Lucy as her words evaporated into the rush of fire.

“What the fuck now?” thought Alvin in whatever language cats thought in as they turned into nuclear steam.

___

For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 26 (But the Coffee’s Good)

(Previously, a man found solace from his dead wife. Today, Cora kind of regrets not getting her project sent off in time, but the coffee’s good.)

Today’s gratuitous photo is a weird tree. Because sometimes trees can be weird.)

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Cora Darling heard it on the radio. She wasn’t sure whether to believe it or not. She turned on the TV to see if its news agreed with the radio’s news. The screen scratched out static on every channel. She went to her home office and turned on her computer to see if the internet agreed with the radio. She frowned at the white screen with the block letters: You are not connected to the internet. She went back to the kitchen and sat at the table where steam still wavered over the top of her coffee cup. She picked it up and sipped. She had an assignment to deliver to a client in two hours. She could have done that two hours earlier but it was so beautiful out that she spent those two hours on the back deck admiring her view of the city in the distance, the light cloud of smog surrounding it, the glints and glitters from cars and buses and trucks streaming like metal water through the city streets and turnpikes.

And then it was time to get back to work. But first a fresh coffee made from the imported beans she’d bought online and had just arrived that morning.

She wasn’t even sure why she’d turned on the radio. It was just there, on the table, facing her, unused for almost a year. She turned the dial and the radio face lit up and the news channel blared: We’re getting reports of explosions in…

And then static. Most of the stations were static. Others emitted confused news reports. No one seemed to know what was going on. Two DJs joked about a weekend fishing trip one of them had “survived.” One channel played classical music. Cora thought that it sounded like Mozart. She left the radio on that station for now.

She’d had a feeling when she woke up this morning. She wasn’t sure what the feeling was, but she remembered it being nothing good, like biting into a genetically modified peach and feeling the pit shattering around your teeth. Her back was to the glass doors leading out to the deck. She didn’t have to look to see it. The wall in front of her suddenly burst into brilliant light. I should have finished it and sent it off before taking a break. The coffee cup was to her mouth. And this is really great coffee. The light from behind her was so bright it seemed to burn out everything in its path with sheer brilliance alone, and not just a wave of heat and angry energy devouring everything in its path, including Cora, who managed to get one more sip of coffee before she evaporated along with the coffee and her schedule.

___

For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 25 (From the Dead)

(Previously, a bunch of idiots worked their asses off to put themselves out of work so that their managers could get raises and bonuses. Today, a man finds solace from his dead wife.

Today’s gratuitous photo shows what a picnic bench does at the end of picnic season.)

Killarney Nov 12 2017-9

The divorce wasn’t working. It wasn’t doing a thing to stop the creepiness, that clear image of her eyes and what he’d seen in them. She was right. She was so right, but how do you accept something like that? It goes against everything you believe in, everything that allows you to get through each day with some semblance of sanity.

He stood in front of the washroom mirror staring into his own eyes. He saw the fear, the cold wrapper of doubt tightening around his world. He looked down at his skinny naked frame. He used to be overweight. He used to eat with such relish, savoring the taste of food, savoring the taste of life. But that was long ago, before his wife had gone over the deep end.

Or had she?

He ignored her emails. He kept blocking her, but she kept finding ways in with new accounts and other methods. He’d had his cell number changed a dozen times but she somehow found her way to the new numbers. He didn’t have the heart to call the police or take legal action. There was something inside him still attached to her, something cloudy and confused with questions that surfaced in some translucent pool of self-inflicted turmoil with questions, surfacing and sinking, surfacing and sinking. Was it my fault? Could I have done something? Did I really have to leave her?

He looked back into his sunken eyes. He wondered who he was, this skinny frame that ran. He should have stayed. He should have comforted her. He should have grieved for her. He should have helped her get through the days of her death while she was still trapped in the world of the living.

Sometimes he prayed for death, but it never came. He prayed now. And it came…at first, as a distant rumble just before the walls of his washroom swallowed him with fire.

In that instant, Clay Baker knew that he would be in death with his wife, Judy, and there would be no living to confuse things.

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For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 24 (Ghosts of the Machine)

(Previously, Aleks made at least one dream come true. Today, a bunch of idiots…which pretty much describes most of the world’s 21st Century work force, very happily and proudly put themselves out of work…for whom? Read on to find out.)

Today’s gratuitous photo is a lost sandal frozen in pond ice. It makes me think of sandals I’ve owned.)

Episode 24

“Yep, she’s a beautiful sight indeed,” said Murphy as he gazed lovingly at the machine with all its pulleys and conveyor belts and consoles. He turned to Johnson, grabbed his hand and started shaking it enthusiastically.

Johnson smiled wide enough to rip his face off if he sneezed. He stared teary-eyed at the machine. “It certainly is, sir, it certainly is.”

“And you and your crew made this all possible, Johnson,” said Murphy. “We’ll never forget this, you know.”

“I know, sir,” said Johnson.

“Oh,” said Murphy, “looks like Sinclair is going to say something.” He looked in the direction of a man in a very expensive three-piece gray suit. He clapped his hands three times.

“Everyone!” said Sinclair. “Everyone! May I have your attention.”

A hush fell over the room as seven men in very expensive three piece gray suits and five men in shitty mismatched suits trained their eyes on Sinclair. “We all know that progress is inevitable, that what is to come, will in fact come. We can’t fight it. We can’t stop it. We can only accept that things will change.” He looked around the room into the eyes of each of the twelve men surrounding him. “And change they will. And I like to think…for the better. Things change for the better. And that’s what’s happened here. Things have changed for the better. We…all of us…” He raised his arms in a sweeping motion to include everyone in the room. As he raised his arms and did the sweeping thing, not a wrinkle appeared in the arms of his expensive gray suit jacket. “…have embraced the future. And now the future is here.” He pointed both uncreased arms toward the machine. “The future is here.”

A loud cheer resounded in the room. It bounced off the walls and ceiling and swarmed lovingly over the machine. It was followed by a cascade or energetic applause as everyone in the room turned to face the marvelous machine that had been in the works for almost a year. And here it was…the future.

Moody smiled profusely as the stood by himself, happy with the news he’d received that day. All five of the production people had been given their walking papers. They were no longer needed. The machine would so everything they did faster, more efficiently and, most important, cheaper. Much cheaper. In fact, cheap enough that all eight managers had, that day, received huge bonuses and raises in pay. Moody clapped his hands together hard enough to almost hurt them. Fucking idiots, he thought as he clapped and glanced quickly at Jones and Wallis.

Jones put his hand on Wallis’ shoulder as he stared at the machine. Their suits, of course, were mismatched. Wallis turned his head to look at Jones, who turned his head to look at Wallis. “We did it,” said Wallis.

“We sure did,” said Jones. “And in under a year.”

“Against all odd,” said Wallis.

Jones squeezed Wallis’ shoulders. “So…what next for you? Any prospects?”

“Nothing yet,” said Wallis. “Didn’t realize the job market would be this tight. How about you?”

Jones shrugged his shoulders. “Haven’t really had time to get my resume together…with all the overtime and weekends here to get this working on schedule.”

“Yeah,” said Wallis. “Same here. But we did it, Jones, we did it.”

Manfort shook Smith’s hand firmly, maybe a little too firmly as was his habit. “You people did a wonderful job, Smith. Wonderful job.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Smith, beaming. He loved getting praise from Manfort and the other managers in their expensive three-piece gray suits. It made him think that maybe someday he would be wearing one of those suits and filling someone’s day with joy…just by shaking their hand. “It was a big job, but what can you say with a team like ours. It was all teamwork, sir, all teamwork.”

“That’s the spirit, Smith,” said Manfort. “It’s always the team. Always the team.” He turned his gaze full on to Smith. “So, how long have you been with the company, Smith?”

Smith sensed an opening. He smiled wider. “Eighteen years, sir. Eighteen years last week. And every one of them a wonderful experience, sir.”

“Well, Smith,” said Manfort, “you’ve been a valued employee, and making this machine a reality must serve as a sort of culmination of accomplishments for you, Smith.”

“It certainly does, sir,” said Smith. “It certainly does.”

“Granted it means that you and your team will no longer be needed here, but I’m guessing that you’re all looking forward to new challenges,” said Manfort as he smiled and nodded his head as though agreeing with himself. “And a much deserved break from eighteen years of the same-old same-old, right, Smith?”

“Right, sir,” said Smith a little too loud. “Looking forward to new challenges.”

Fucking idiot, thought Manfort as he turned and walked away from Smith, leaving the ill-suited man wondering what had just happened.

“Look at them,” said Kingsley to Bingham, both wearing expensive three-piece gray suits. “They’re fucking happy. We just got them to build a machine to put them all out of work so that we could make more money and the fucking idiots did it…and now they’re celebrating.”

“Did you get your bonus?” said Bingham.
“I did, yes,” said Kingsley.

“Did you get your raise?” said Bingham.

“I did,” said Kingsley. “And I might say, it was not displeasing.”

“They made us richer,” said Bingham. “They’re working class heroes.”

“But they’re all out of jobs now, Bingham,” said Kingsley. “They replaced themselves with a machine and now they’re all out of work.”

Bingham thought a moment and nodded. “They’re fucking idiot heroes.”

Glowing in their expensive three-piece gray suits, Stansfield and VanHart stood on either side of Davis in his blah brand suit.

“This is going to make us all rich, VanHart,” said Stansfield.

“You mean, richer, Stansfield,” said VanHart. “This machine is going to make us richer than we ever dreamed.”

Davis smiled sheepishly. Here he was, standing between two of the managers. He’d never stood between two managers before. It was like he was part of some kind of informal management meeting…two managers discussing things with Davis in the middle.

“Too bad about the team,” said Stansfield. “All that work and now…”

“Just business,” said VanHart. “We have the machine. We don’t need them anymore.”

For just a split second, Davis let a negative thought run through the train of his glory-moment standing between two managers, as though he were part of this important discussion about the machine. That was enough to abort the thought before it had a chance to turn into anything close to an idea. Besides, he had more pressing things to dwell on…like coming up with some kind of plan to find work and pay the bills.

Fucking idiots, thought Stansfield and VanHart simultaneously.

“Everyone!” said Sinclair. “I think it’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for.” Everyone turned expectant eyes on him as he walked over to one of the control consoles. “I’ve been told that his machine is so easy to use. That even I can use it.”

Subdued chuckles and laughter floated ingratiatingly toward Sinclair, who sat down at the console. “Apparently, all I have to do it press this button.” He smiled and looked around at the return smiles. He put his right index finger on a large blue button labelled START and pressed it.

They all felt it at the same time, expensive three piece gray suits and mismatched suits. For an instant they thought it was the machine, but when the walls flew at them and started shredding their bodies and heat began to melt the threads of their suits, it was the IA in the machine that had the last thought: Fucking idiots.

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For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 23 (Borscht Soaked Potatoes)

(Previously, a sensitive poet saw a thousand sparkles. Today, Aleks makes at least one dream come true.  Read on…

Today’s gratuitous photo is geese. Canada geese. By a lake in Canada.)

Episode 23

Aleks Boback loved borscht. He could eat borscht until it dripped out of his eyes. He especially loved dipping boiled potatoes into his borscht, and the memory of doing that around the family table brought a smile to his face.

“What the fuck are you smiling about?” said Marina Gura, a beautiful woman with the charm of a broken window. Miles off to the right, Aleks heard the dull thud of an explosion followed a few seconds later by a tremor in the ground under him. “You think this is funny? You think we are on vacation here?” Marina’s eyes were large, even larger when she was angry and in a mood to strike out at whoever was unlucky enough to be within fifty feet of her.

Aleks stopped smiling. Not because Marina questioned his smile in her bullying way, but because the bitch had broken his train of thought right before a bomb exploded. Visions of potatoes dipped in borscht evaporated from his mind and he was back in this stinking abandoned house that smelled like piss and fungus. A few stray beams of light shone weakly through the boards nailed to the windows.

“What the fuck is your problem now, Marina? You don’t like smiling?” Aleks wasn’t going to back down from her.

“And you think this shithole is something to smile about, Aleks Boback?” Her voice sharp and venomous.

Aleks tightened his grip on his rifle thinking how satisfying it would be so put a bullet into Marina’s forehead. Marina felt Aleks’s malevolence across the ten feet between them and shifted the position of her rifle just in case.

“Fuck off, both of you,” said Roman Zaleski, their commanding officer, who rarely spoke except to tell Marina and Aleks to fuck off. He sat with his back against a wall with bullet holes the size of eggs drawing a curve over his head. Aleks and Marina snapped their eyes towards him and then back to each other.

They simmered quietly until Aleks said, “Did you feel that?”

“What the fuck are you talking about now?” said Marina.

Roman snored gently against the wall.

Aleks looked around. “I’m not sure. It’s…” Every chink in the wood covering the windows began to glow brightly and Aleks had just enough time to make one of his dreams come true. There was no borsht, so he put a bullet into Marina’s head, and dreamed about borscht soaked potatoes as his body vaporized.

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For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.