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.)

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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.

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For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 22 (A Thousand Sparkles)

 

(Previously, a self-employed recycling activist faced heavy decisions over a valuable find. Today, a sensitive poet sees a thousand sparkles. Interested? Read on…

Today’s gratuitous photo is ducks on the bank of a river standing on one foot. This is how they stay warm in cold weather.)

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Tommy Kaplan was lying under his bed again with a bottle of wine and a box of cheap facial tissues. He was always sure to call them “facial tissues” but he would never call them “cheap.” They were economical. Unfortunately, it took two or three economical tissues to blow his nose without blowing a hole in the center of them.

He’d just blown a hole through three but what the hell…he was under his bed. Who would know?

“You blew a hole through your tissues again, didn’t you?”

It was a female voice. Tommy turned his head and looked into Sally’s big blue eyes as she peeked under the bed at him.

“You know,” she said, “if you were to pay a few cents extra, you’d only have to use one tissue at a time and you wouldn’t blow snot all over the bottom of our bed.”

Tommy stared at her, not saying a word. His feelings were still hurt. He wasn’t speaking to her until she apologized and he would stay under the bed until she did.

“I’m not going to apologize, Tommy.” She lay the rest of her body down on the floor and set her chin on her hands. Tommy turned his head back to the bed and pushed the wine bottle up across his chin to his lips. He managed to pour about two tablespoons of wine into his mouth before he was pouring it across his cheeks. “And you’re wasting a lot of good wine, Tommy. Just because I was honest about your poem.”

With tremendous effort, Tommy managed to bend his left arm just right so that he could wipe the wine from his cheek.

“You asked me to be honest. You said, ‘I want your honest opinion. Don’t hold back.’ And that’s what I gave you…my honest opinion. The poem sucked.” She sighed loudly. “You’re not a poet, Tommy. You write articles…fact-based, non-fiction articles about technology. And you’re good at it, Tommy…better than most. You should be content with that. Stick to what you do best.”

Tommy snorted. Sally pushed her right hand under the bed and poked him in the shoulder with her index finger. He tried to shrug his shoulder away from her finger.

“C’mon, Tommy,” she said. “You’re just going to get wine all over your shirt and snot all over the bed. And…well…maybe there was one good line in the poem.”

He turned his head toward her and almost said, “Which line?” But he didn’t. He wasn’t speaking to her until she apologized. And he meant it. He had tissues and wine and he was good for the night.

“It was the second last line.” She smiled. “Now, how did that go…?  Right. A thousand sparkles of rain. I kinda like that. A thousand sparkles of rain. It creates a sort of magical picture in my head.”

Tommy couldn’t help smiling. The more he tried not to, the more it spread across his face.

But he still wasn’t talking to her.

“Ah ha! Looks like the ice man under the bed is maybe melting a bit?”

He tried desperately to reign in the smile but was a no go. He’d created a “magical picture.” She liked one line. All he had to do was make the other eighty lines create magical pictures. He could do it. He could be a poet. He’d always wanted to be a poet. He wanted to create magical pictures.

“Maybe if I read it again?”

He stopped smiling. Was she serious? Would she really read it again?

“But you have to say something first.”

He squinted his eyes. Say something? He lifted the bottle to his lips and poured more wine across his cheek. He looked into her eyes imploringly. Was she serious?

“You have to tell me you love me.”

He wanted to yell, “After you hurt my feelings! After you said my poem sucked! The poem I worked over a month on! You want me to tell you I love you?” But he didn’t. She still hadn’t apologized. He turned his head back to the bottom of the bed. His nose was starting to get stuffy again. He reached into the box by his side and pulled out a bunch of tissues.

“You’re going to blow your nose again?” She pushed herself back about a foot. “Gross. You’re going to put more snot on the bed.”

That was the last straw for Tommy. She’d panned his poem. Then got his hopes up about the second last line. Then told him he was gross. Well, gross he would be. He stuffed the wine bottle into his armpit, put the bunch of tissue to his nose with both hands, took a deep breath and got ready to expel snot…just about the time the room began to shake and he felt a weird tingling. He turned his head just in time to see Sally shoot across the floor as though she were being pulled by some invisible creature. The bed flew into the air and against the far wall and Tommy’s last thought was: A thousand sparkles…

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For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 21 (Penguins Starving in the Full Moon Light)

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(Previously, a self-employed recycling activist was saved from having to make a tough decisoin. Today, a couple down on the human race goes down with the human race. Read on…

Today’s gratuitous photo is wild grass in the wind by a body of water in the wilderness on a sunny day along the bike trail.)

 

“And here’s to the penguin cubs starving in the full moon light on a continent drifting off into the oceans.”

Their glasses clinked. This was a matter of great importance to Waylon. Wine glasses had to clink. That was how you knew they were expensive crystal glasses. Clunking didn’t cut it. Clunks were for cheap Dollar Store glasses with cheap blunt-tasting wine. Waylon didn’t drink from cheap glasses that said, “Clunk.” And he didn’t drink cheap wine. The glasses they drank from contained expensive French wine and when Waylon’s glass touched Jenny’s glass, they said, “Clink” with an Austrian accent.

“Poor little penguin cubs,” said Jenny. She sipped gracefully from her expensive cut crystal wine glass and savored the smooth fruity wine as it slid over her palette.

Waylon smiled and as he reached his glass towards hers. “Here’s to the human babies being blown to shreds by humans with bombs strapped around their bodies.”

“To the babies!” said Jenny as their glasses said, “Clink.”

They sipped and smiled.

“I think we were a mistake,” said Jenny.

“A miscalculation in the abacus of evolution,” said Waylon.

“A foul package left on the doorstep of an unsuspecting world,” said Jenny.

“But the world took us in,” said Waylon. “Took us in with a trusting heart.”

“And we betrayed her,” said Jenny. “Like an apple filled with razor blades.”

“Like a fortune cookie laced with arsenic,” said Waylon.

“We are ebola to Mother Earth,” said Jenny.

“Here’s to the last tree in the last rain forest,” said Waylon, and their glasses clinked in cut crystal harmony.

“I wonder what they’ll do with the machines when there’s nothing left to cut?” said Jenny.

“They’ll look for new things to kill and build new machines to kill them,” said Waylon. “And they’ll leave the old machines to die from rust in the forests they stripped to the bone.”

“Bastards!” said Jenny.

“Bastards!” said Waylon.

Jenny thrust her glass towards Waylon’s. A few drops of wine slipped over the rim of the glass and landed on the chesterfield. She giggled. Waylon giggled. “To the bones of the forests,” she said, and their glasses clinked expensively. It was almost like a “click” with an undertone of “ink.”

They laughed and sipped and Waylon said, “To the air getting thick enough to swim to the stars.”

Click with an “ink.”

“To the disappearing coastlines and the cities and villages soon to be underwater,” said Jenny.

This clink brought to you all the way from Austria.

“To the primordial viruses newly awakened and ravaging the living of another time,” said Waylon.

“Oh shit!” said Jenny.

“What?” said Waylon. “You didn’t read about the…”

“I’m out of wine.” She held her glass high and almost doubled over giggling. “I’m out of wine.”

Waylon looked into his glass. “Me too.” He laughed as though he’d just told the funniest joke in the world. He bent over and lifted a bottle from a porcelain bucket filled with melting ice and refilled their glasses, spilling wine onto the chesterfield. “Fuck,” said Jenny. “It’s all so…”

“…fucking pointless,” said Waylon.

“We’re so…fucked,” said Jenny, and they both laughed. “By the way, what was I supposed to read about?”

Waylon thought for a moment but nothing came to mind so he thrust his glass towards Jenny’s glass and said, “To all the flying insects that seem to have left the planet and the crops they left behind to die.”

Their glasses clinked hard and more wine soaked into the chesterfield. They bent over with laughter. “Oh…oh…oh,” said Jenny. “I have one.”

“Let’s hear it,” said Waylon.

Jerry sat straight, almost to a sitting attention stance, and lifted her glass solemnly. Waylon followed suit. In a mock serious voice, she said, “And here’s to blowing up in…” just as the nuclear tide tore through the living room and carried their particles off into a world bereft of flying insects.

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For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.