100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 15 (Bats Out Of the Belfry)

Ice Trees-5

(Previously, Elsie Warren missed a chance to cut Andrea’s throat. Oh well. Today, 10 nasty little bats don’t get to terrorize a woman in the night. Read on…

Today’s gratuitous photo is vertical parallel symmetry. Or pointy things.)


“I’m going to eat the biggest, fattest, juiciest June bug I can find. Gonna eat its head and all,” said Jurgen.

“I could go for a dozen or so fireflies. Maybe a load of mosquitos on the side,” said Dwight.

Jurgen flapped his wings and made chirping sounds that sounded more like clicks than chirps. “And after I eat that monstrous big June bug,” he said, flapping his wings excitedly, “I’m going to find a lone female out for a night time stroll and fly right into her hair!”

Dwight chirped frantically, though it sounded more like bad Morse code, and made a rasping sound. “Yeah! Let’s both fly into her hair. Like, roll around, get tangled, make her scream a bit.”

“Scream a bit! Scream a bit!” screamed Jurgen, wings flapping wildly.

“Don’t ya just love this life?” said Dwight. “Get to fly, eat bugs and scare people. Gotta love it!”

“Remember that red head the other night?” said Jurgen. They clicked their chirps and flapped their wings crazily.

“Ran right into a tree!” yelled Dwight.

“Knocked herself clean out!” yelled Jurgen.

“Scared the shit out of that family walking by!”

“Made the kids cry!”

“And then the whole family ran! Even the father!”

“Let’s all of us fly into her hair!” yelled Dwight.

“Yay!” yelled Barton

“All of us!” yelled Harry.

“Right into her hair!” yelled Arnold.

“Flock attack!” yelled Charles.

“Make her scream!” yelled Michael.

“Flap and roll!” yelled Carson.

“No mercy!” yelled Ebeneezer.

“Follicle frenzy!” yelled Chester.

The other bats looked at Chester quizzically, as was the attic norm whenever he spoke.

“Let’s go for it!” yelled Jurgen.

Together as a bat horde they let loose from their perches and clicked and chirped and flapped out the ventilation window, straight into the firestorm.

(With thanks to The Queen of the Bats for this one.)


For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.


100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 14 (Bright Lights, Big Salon)

Bike and Bronze Man

(Previously, Judy Baker no longer had to worry about being dead. Today, a hair stylist comes close to exacting revenge. Read on…

Today’s gratuitous photo is a guy standing by the road with a metal tray. And a bike. and a lot of stuff attached to a bike.)

Elsie Warren was the first to feel it. It seemed as though it conducted through the cord of her hair dryer as she dried Andrea Smith’s hair. It wasn’t a jolt or a surge or anything that would cause her to say, “Did you feel that?” It was more like an infinitesimal displacement of atoms similar to the burp of a ladybug, as noticeable as anonymous music playing on the radio in the background. Not worth mentioning because…what would you mention? “Did you hear that ladybug burp?” And there was no way she was going to ask Andrea Smith a question like that. Andrea would be on social media right after the hair styling spreading the word, “Guess who’s losing it?” And the she’d be calling people because her mouth never shut. Elsie hated Andrea. Often, when she was doing Andrea’s hair, she would fantasize rinsing her hair with her head submerged in the sink until her body sagged lifeless over the counter. Sometimes she’d smile and chuckle quietly when she visualized Andrea’s dead body drooping with its mouth shut forever. A few times Andrea had stopped dead in whatever monologue about how the world was failing her or she needed to associate with a more positive set of friends because the current ones weren’t up to par in supporting her, and she asked, “What is it? Why are you chuckling?”

“Oh nothing, Andrea. Just thought about something my nephew said this weekend. But you’re right, you know, they just don’t understand your needs.” And it would go on and on until the session was over and Andrea would leave an insulting tip.

There it was again. This time a little stronger, like a June bug belching. Elsie stopped thinking about murdering Andrea while something in the back of her mind said, “Something’s happening. Don’t know what yet. But it ain’t gonna be anything good.” It was at that moment that she noticed her coworkers and their customers by the windows stop what they were doing and walk slowly to the large slatted windows and stare out. Suddenly, they were bathed in light, the kind of light you see at the end of the day or the early morning, only brighter, much brighter.

Elsie knew at that moment that it was time to cut Andrea’s throat with her scissors and she would have if she’d thought about it just a few seconds before the light crashed through the windows and walls.


For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 7 (You Are Not Connected)

Saint Andrews_

(Yesterday, I blew up Chelsea Landing just as she was calling it quits. Today, much to Shawna Gorman’s dismay she’s forced step outside her cell phone. Want to feel her pain? Read on…

Today’s gratuitous photo is seaweed. Everybody loves seaweed.)


Shawna Gorman was the ultimate phonie. She lived for her cell phone, she lived by her cell phone and she lived in her cell phone. She was the fish and her cell was the ocean, and trips to the surface were suffocating excursions into a world that had ceased long ago to be real to her. If it wasn’t contained in a text or Facebook message, it wasn’t real. If it didn’t appear in a tweet or Instagram image, it never happened. She knew she could make calls on her cell and actually talk to other people, but why would she do that? What would she say?

Today, she was having some afternoon sex with her boyfriend, Mark, who she’d met on a dating site. He could text faster than anyone she’d ever met and it excited her to see how soon he could get a message back to her after she texted him. It was like he was responding as she was texting. She was texting him now, telling him what a great a fuck he was as he was text-fucking her. It was so much more exciting this way. And she would have the messages stored in her account, almost like a scrapbook of their sexual encounters. And some of the selfies were just plain delicious. She had a whole library of selfies of herself coming with Mark and sometimes she posted them publicly with the message: Real or posed? You guess.

Everyone pretty much guessed right.

She was just about to take another selfie of herself coming with Mark when suddenly…her connection broke, not with Mark (she could easily deal with that) but with her phone (which was not so easily dealt with). She pushed Mark’s body off her and sat straight up, gazing in horror at the message on her screen: You are not connected. Mark, still in heat and wondering why his penis was suddenly getting cold, checked his phone to see if he was still with Shauna. The message on his phone didn’t make any sense. Not connected?

Mark looked at Shauna. Actually looked.

Shauna looked at Mark. Yes, looked.

They both looked confused as first their ears, and then their noses and lips tore off their faces and rushed off to somewhere in a world that was suddenly connected only by its fate.


For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.


100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 5 (Death to the Slurper)


(Yesterday, I blew up a bunch of programmers looking to drive you crazy for profit. Today, Bonita Valdez is the kind of person who incites murder. She does it with coffee. How? Read on.

Today’s gratuitous photo is a seashore at low tide. Never be fooled by seashores at low tide. They don’t just come in from the oceanside, they come in from both sides and, somehow, from behind you.)


Bonita Valdez loved slurping her coffee…as in, she never sipped. No, that would be a waste of good coffee according to Bonita. “You have to slurp it to get the full taste. It has to be noisy to be tasty.” Some people swore that she inhaled her coffee with the gusto and volume of a steroid-pumped-up metal band from hell to the extent that you could feel her drinking coffee from two blocks away. Dianne Swazey watched in horror as Bonita lifted the cup to her mouth. Dianne hated Bonita. They both arrived at the Bayside Coffee Shop at the same time every morning. They worked in different buildings, but they spent their coffee breaks in the same place. Dianne had no choice. It was the closest coffee shop to her work, the only one close enough that she would have time for a coffee and there was no way she was taking it back to the office and get stuck working on something on her coffee break. She was trapped. She had to listen to that “fat horse bad-hair-day-everyday loud insufferable bitch” drink coffee like a pig at the trough. Dianne wanted to look into Bonita’s eyes as she strangled her to death and say things into her dying eyes like, “Didn’t expect this on your coffee break today did you?” “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.”

Things like that. And there she was, the cup inches away from her mouth, her lips parting slightly to breath in the coffee, getting ready to announce to the entire coffee shop that she was drinking her coffee. Dianne’s finger tips tingled. She wanted to feel them on Bonita’s throat. The cup was just about to touch Bonita’s lips. Dianne cringed. The lip of the cup touched the lower lip of the pig monstrosity and Dianne closed her eyes wishing that she could cover her ears, but that would probably make Bonita slurp louder, make the others in the coffee shop point at her and giggle among themselves. Just as Bonita was about to slurp, the wall behind her disintegrated and all the disintegrated parts of it streaked right through Bonita, disintegrated her before she could slurp. Oh thank God, thought Dianne just before she disintegrated along with Bonita.

Oh thank God, thought Doris Hanover, who was sitting two tables away from Bonita and had been fantasizing strangling her to death for almost two years.

Oh thank God, thought Barb Watters, who wanted to run across the room, grab Bonita by the hair and pound her face into the table over and over as she shouted, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

Oh thank God, thought Damien White who’d been secretly in love with Dianne for over a year but was too shy to approach her. Instead, five days a week, he watched the woman he loved suffer from the sounds of the “the fat one’s” inexcusable bad manners. The metal knife he was holding as he thought about walking up to Bonita’s table and slashing her throat turned to liquid in his hand as his hand turned to ash and roared away with the coffee shop.

For more crazy writing by Biff Mitchel, visit Amazon.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up – Episode 2 (The Bat)


(Yesterday, I blew up an office of full of typical office workers with all their typical mental health and social challenges and got into their minds just as they were blowing up…all the parts of them scattering through the disintegrating office and still, all of them, wrapped in small thoughts and pitiful feelings. Today, I’m blowing up eight year old Jenny Steward as she stands in line with her mother at the bank to take money from her account to buy a baseball bat. Her her reasons for buying the bat would raise eyes in Duckburg. Oh, BTW, the bank is just about to be robbed.

Today’s totally gratuitous photo was taken in the deep, dark and mysterious woods of New Brunswick.)


Jenny Steward was eight years old. She smiled as she stood beside her mother in the lineup at the bank. Today was going to be the most special day of her life. She was going to take ten dollars out of her bank account, money she’d been saving for over a year, money she’d made from birthdays and from selling orange juice from her stand at the end of the driveway for 50 cents a glass. She had more than ten dollars, but that was all she needed for now. She was going to buy a baseball bat and a ball. When she’d told her mother, her mother had smiled and said, “You’re such a tomboy.” She’d smiled so lovingly into her mother’s eyes. Her father had said, “Just like Daddy’s girl. I’ll teach you how to use that bat.” Another loving smile. Her brother had laughed and said, “Girls don’t know anything about baseball, especially you.” She hated her brother. He was mean and he pushed her around and bullied her. She stood beside her mother and smiled as she imagined getting home with the bat and the ball. She didn’t need the ball, but it was necessary to get it so that no one would guess. It was going to be a huge surprise when she held the bat in her hands and used it to beat her brother to death. Outside, in the distance, she thought she heard a rumble. She ignored it. She was finally going to get rid of her brother.

Lisa Calloway hated banks. She hated walking into banks and standing in lineups while listening to the scribble of cheques and forms becoming financial realities. She swore she could hear the ink flowing onto the paper and see in her mind’s eye the greed glimmering in the bankers’ eyes as a signature here and initials there shackled another human into a lifetime of debt slavery. She hated the subservient hush of the lines of sheep. She reached into her purse and ran her index finger along the cool metal barrel of the .38 calibre pistol she’d been practicing with at the range for the last two months. Her eyes burned with hatred.

“Everyone! Get down! On the floor! Now!”

Chad Everett watched himself as though he’d stepped out of his body and became an observer of his own actions. He yelled again, “Down! Right now! Everybody! Or I’ll blow everyone up!”

People in the lineups, tellers behind counters, bankers and customers at desks and the two guards by the door stared in horror at the explosives wrapped around Chad’s upper body. He stretched his right arm into the air where everyone could see his hand clenched around the detonator. “Everyone stay calm! Do as you’re told and you’ll all be OK. Get down now!”

He turned in a circle as he talked so that everyone had a view of the explosives. Around him, people practically fell to the floor, some crying and whimpering, some annoyed that this bullshit was cutting into their lunch hour. I’m in control, he thought. For the first time in my life, I’m in control. It was an intoxicating thought for a man who’d been a victim all his life, a piece of human debris washed about wherever the tides of life and circumstance had taken him and never once in control of even a small piece of ripple in all those tides.

Lisa Calloway thought, What the fuck? As she lay on the floor, she debated whether or not to sneak the gun out of her purse and shoot this idiot with the bomb tied around him, but then she’d likely be blowing herself up. That wasn’t in the plan. A part of her mind kicked up an alarm flag as it sensed a rumble in the distance.

“Everyone stay calm! This will be over soon!” Chad was impressed with himself. He sounded just like those guys in the movies when they robbed a bank…stay calm…this will be over soon. He fancied himself a natural pro at this. It was just as he was relishing this thought that the floor began to vibrate and there was a very distinct rumble in the distance that was suddenly a rumble just down the street and then it was washing the walls away and sheering the flesh off Chad and the others right where they stood and lay.

Just before his brain turned to steam, Chad thought, Fuck, they told me it was a fake…

Jenny Steward was disappointed that she wouldn’t get a chance to beat her brother to death with a baseball bat. Gail Baker, one of the tellers waiting to be robbed by the guy with the bomb, managed a half smile as she thought, Looks like getting off early to… Daniel Turner’s last thought gave him a warm feeling inside, No more mortgage payments, I get to keep my money and… And then the hot storm incinerated him where he stood. Charlie Beach felt the rumble, the vibration, the shake and felt a plateau of regret as he thought, Just when I was going to make the last car payment. Judy Gumble, Tania Corbet and Sonya Turbin all thought the same thing as they lay on the floor, their plans to rob the bank together thwarted by some idiot wrapped in a bomb and then being blown up after cooperating with the asshole. What they thought was: Shit. Damn. Fuck.

One way or another, it was a bad day for the bank.

And for everyone else.


Ever thought about writing a novel but don’t know how to get started or keep the steam up until you have something in your hands ready for a publisher? You need Writing Hurts Like Hell: How to Write a Novel When You Don’t Have Time to Write a Short Story.

100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up


(Ever wonder what might go through your mind if you were suddenly blown up in a nuclear holocaust? No? Good for you. However, the possibility of being blown up in a nuclear holocaust is swiftly becoming a strong possibility, given that the world is currently being run by a pack of self-serving idiots. Again, however, those idiots inspired me to write this story. It’s about the thoughts and feelings of 100 people, 10 bats and 1 cat at that moment just before and/or during being blown up in a nuclear holocaust. I’ll be posting one episode a day along with a completely gratuitous photo until all 100 people, 10 bats and the cat are blown up. I kind of feel sorry for the bats.)


It started as a vague awareness of something drifting in the air, a connection floating between the dust motes, barely perceptible by a sixth sense or whatever psychic warning that joins the herd instinct to stop and listen. Shiela Montgomery stopped chewing on her mid-morning Coffee Crisp. Her eyes narrowed as her mind tried to tune into whatever it was that had just locked the room into an instant in time. Danny Yates’ fingers halted their crazy keyboard dervish as his wrists pressed down against the cushioned tray, his fingers raised over the keys like vipers set to strike. Chloe Sanders cocked her head to the right and looked at the pipes and electronic circuitry in the ceiling as she thought, Is this place going to blow up? There had never been any doubt in her mind that someday the place was going to blow up. She’d always hoped it would happen on her day off or when she was on lunch hour. But no, here she was, sitting at her desk at the tail end of a monumental quality request form and the damn place was going to blow up. All those pipes and circuitry.

It was like a moment echoing between two solid walls of time so fast that its movement merged with time into motionlessness. So fast, it went nowhere.

Oh shit, thought Chloe Sanders.

The moment collapsed in on itself like a savage force of shaking fury.

Oh shit, thought Shiela Montgomery.

A distant rumble. And then the release.

Oh shit, thought Danny Yates, a split second before his skin peeled away from his bones and his bones disintegrated as the searing wave of nuclear hell fire tore through the office, the building and the city.

“That was intense,” said Chloe Sanders.

“I guess I never really expected it to be that fast,” said Danny Yates. “I didn’t even have time to think about it. Did anyone else feel that rumble?”

“It seemed like it was a thousand miles away…and then…woop,” said Arthur Williams, who’d been in the office all along, watching Chloe eating her Coffee Crisp and wishing that he’d had a chocolate bar as well.

“And I always thought it would be the pipes and circuitry that would blow us up,” said Chloe, shaking her head in disappointment. How could she have been so certain and so wrong?

“Well,” said Shiela Montgomery, “we finally got rid of that ugly ceiling. It made me feel like I was working in an oil refinery.”

“Or deep down inside the city’s sewage systems,” said Olivia Portman, who had blue Wiccan symbols tattooed on both her arms. “Right down under the city with the stench and the salamanders.” She’d been fantasizing having oral sex with Arthur as he watched Chloe eat her chocolate bar just before they all blew up.

Their location and surroundings were uncertain. They were aware of themselves and of each other and they were vaguely aware of the absence of things, like the ceiling. Their desks were gone along with their computers and swivel chairs. There were no walls, no windows, no floor. It was certainly a much different environment than it had been a few minutes before. Chloe’s Coffee Crisp bar was gone before she’d had a chance to finish it and she felt a little ripped off by the timing of things. The nerve: blowing a city up before people have a chance to finish their chocolate bars.

“So…how do we enter this into our timesheets?” asked Jamey Dunlop, who was always asking stupid questions instead of trying to figure out anything on his own. People tried to avoid him because he always had a question, even when he didn’t. He just saw you and he’d ask a question.

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about your timesheet anymore, Jamey,” said Olivia, who was wondering if it would still be possible to have oral six with Arthur.

“I don’t care if I ever have to fill out another timesheet for as long as I live,” yelled Janet Campbell from over in PR. She hated numbers, and timesheets were all about numbers. “Timesheets suck!”

There followed an undercurrent of mirth, like dozens upon dozens of people smiling together as though they’d just shared a large pizza with the works and a case of cold beer.

“But you can fill yours out if you want to, Jamey,” said Danny Yates, smirking. He didn’t like Jamey, who annoyed him with stupid questions even when it was obvious that he was deep into coding and didn’t want to be interrupted.

“OK,” said Jamey. “How do I get to my timesheet from here?”

“Jamey!” said Alice Turnbill, a systems analyst who was in town once a month for team meetings and who felt a little picked on that the city would be blown up on the one day of the month that she was in town. “Just find ‘here’ first and take it from there, you nitwit.”

Another undercurrent of mirth ensued. Some people were beginning to think that maybe being blown up wasn’t such a bad thing. It sure beat that ugly ceiling. All those pipes and wires.

“OK,” said Jamey. “How do you get to here?”

Stifled laughter. You could feel it holding its breath, beating hard against the urge to let loose.

“Why don’t you try looking under the third brick to the left, Jamie,” said Alex Gray, a consultant who’d been with the company for nearly three years and nobody actually knew what he did as he sat at his desk by the window with a beautiful view of the city. Andrea Carr from accounting suggested one day (by the water cooler, of course) that downloading porno was a fast rising corporate concern. She looked at Alex as she said this. Now, as far as the rest of the office was concerned, Alex Gray spent his days by the window with the great view of the city downloading porn. Nobody even suspected that he spent his days making entries into an online religious journal, a sort of diary in which he spent his days writing about his love for God and all of God’s creations. For one week of each year, he wrote and published the company’s annual glossy, full-color, twenty page letter to the shareholders about how well the company was doing and how safe the shareholders’ money was with the company. Alex’s job was to gather the photo images, write the text, put it all together in a publishing program, send it to the printers, hand the printed copies over to the chairman of the board who would then pass them on to the shareholders. It took Alex a week to do all this. He made $85,000 a year. But the shareholders loved their annual twenty page letter. Alex’s words to Jamey were the first words many in the office had ever heard him say.

“OK,” said Jamey. He was quiet for a moment. And then, “Does anybody know where the third brick from the left is?”

It was around this time that Danielle McLeod, a Level 1 Policy Analyst from the Compliance Division, realized that one of her arms was protruding from her chest. She noticed that the nail polish on the thumb was scorched. Damn, she thought.

Arnold Hicks from the mail room, who’d been in the office delivering mail when he was blown up, and who weighed close to three hundred pounds, saw his feet for the first time ever, sprouting from either of his shoulders. So, what’s holding me up? he thought.

“OK,” said Jamey. “I’m serious now. Does anyone know where that brick is?”

“Up your ass!”

A silence followed. No one knew where that voice had come from. No one knew whose voice that was. But there was a very distinct undercurrent of mirth to be felt. The voice came from Jasper Goudy, a sidewalk skeptic who spent his retirement days sitting on a bench outside the building passing judgement on passersby. He generally kept his opinions and judgements to himself, thinking them so loudly that he was certain the air in front of his forehead heated up with the energy of his thoughts. When he was blown up, he bounced off the top of a bus and bounded into the air, through a window and into Carla Fitch’s top right desk drawer, where he became a vocal part of a desk. He wasn’t sure where the rest of his body was, but he was certain that his head was in the desk. Carla, who was in charge of the company’s eLearning program, was on vacation in Paris, which was being blown up at the same time as her desk was being blown up with Jasper’s head in it. Coincidence?

“Yeah, Jamey,” said Jennifer Likely, Director of Compliance Training. “Up your ass!” Jennifer had always wanted to say something like this to Jamey Dunlop. She hated his continual whining and questioning. But more than just saying “up your ass,” she would have loved to strangle him to death or pour starter fluid all over him and set him on fire. These were things she fantasized as she sat at her desk and watched Jamey asking other people how to do this and how to do that, or listened to him whining about some piece of software not working because he was too lazy to read the specs and there was nobody around him who’d used the software so he had nobody to ask. On one occasion, she was stapling papers together when she heard Jamey whining about something and she thought how nice it would be to put staples in his forehead and eyes. She smiled as she stapled and fantasized. “Up your ass you fucker,” she yelled. It felt good. “Fuck you, Jamey Dunlop, fuck you…fuck you. Ha ha ha ha ha!” Jennifer, though dead from being blown up, was having a wonderful time telling Jamey to fuck off. In fact, she couldn’t remember ever having this much fun when she was alive. She was, after all, in compliance. What kind of life was that? She liked being dead. She got to tell Jamey Dunlop to fuck off. She got to say, “Up your ass, Jamey Dunlop.” She smiled as the explosion did crazy things to her anatomy.

Garth Peterson wasn’t as happy as Jennifer. He was in charge of enforcing workplace inclusion policies and he believed that annoying people like Jamey should be embraced by the corporate community and his annoying behaviors accepted by his co-workers. Garth was also a very sensitive man and felt a deep sense of hurt at the use of Jennifer’s language, which, he felt was entirely inappropriate given her role in compliance. Garth’s role was already tough given that all the people he worked with were white, straight, middleclass atheists. And none of them were handicapped. Well, maybe now that they were being blown up. Garth spent most of his workdays taking professional development courses on inclusion in the workplace. So far he’d taken one hundred and twenty-three courses on company time and company expense. He was an expert on inclusion and he’d hoped that someday the company would hire someone in a wheelchair or from a foreign country who didn’t look like everybody else so that he could practice those one hundred and twenty-three courses on that person. He felt a bit piqued as he realized that his great hope had just been blown away.

Jason Hart was pissed. This shouldn’t be happening to me, he thought. Jason was a branding evangelist. His job was to visit potential clients and lie religiously about the benefits of dealing with his company, and he was good at it. They paid him over half a million dollars a year to lie. Religiously. (Alex Gray was jealous of Jason Hart. He figured that, if he could work for a company for as long as he had with no one knowing what he did, then he could lie better than Jason and he should be the one making over half a million dollars a year. Plus, it would give him something to do.) Jason was pissed because he was supposed to meet with a potential client later in the afternoon and he’d been preparing his lies for weeks. They were beautiful lies about deliverables that wouldn’t be anywhere near the quality of what he would promise, lies about timelines that no one in their right mind would believe…until they were steeply engulfed by Jason’s lies. He’d even put together a PowerPoint presentation to visually enhance his lies. He had charts and graphs and anecdotes and statistics and meaningful graphics and photo images and quotes and excerpts and interviews and testimonials and recommendations and imaginary sources that he would mention in passing as he clicked quickly to the next screen before the potential client had a chance to actually see the sources let alone ask about them. Jason was gifted at leading his victims down a cherry-walled path and into the trap. But today, he’d been blown up before the meeting and he was pissed.

Donna Hartley was a project manager who hated Jason Hart even though their names were sort of similar. Time after time, Jason had made promises to clients that she and her team had struggled to fulfill, usually unsuccessfully. And when that happened, she’d usually been left holding the shitty end of the stick while Jason went off to lie to another sucker and get her and the other project managers into more shit. She’d made complaints to senior management about Jason, but his lies were bringing in money and feeding their Christmas bonuses, so nothing was ever done about him. Not even a scolding finger. Donna wasn’t too happy about being blown up, but she was happy in the knowledge that Jason was being blown up. If she’d had a mouth left, she would have smiled.

Carla Mason, a junior corporate intelligence analyst, had waked up that morning knowing that this was the day that she would be blown up. She’d been tempted to inform her boss, Jane Powel, about her findings, all of them pointing toward the city being blown up along with a large part of the rest of the world, but she’d finally thought, No, let them read the newspapers and news sites themselves. Besides, ever since the Christmas party when she’d gotten too drunk and told everyone that she’d been attacked and raped by Egyptian hieroglyphics when she was a child, most people didn’t take anything she said seriously. But she was good at running errands and was willing to work evenings and weekends on meaningless projects, so she got to keep her job. As she was being blown up, she kind of liked the idea that she wouldn’t have to work late tonight.

Darren Leckie was an intermediate advertising copy writer who, like Alex Gray, had nothing to do. All the work he was supposed to do was farmed out to companies in India and Indonesia where they did the work of a team of Darrens for a fraction of the cost of one Darren’s salary. His appearance in the company was symbolic. He represented everything the company stood for in its hiring policies to create local jobs. Basically, Darren was an imaginary persona for an imaginary policy creating imaginary jobs for imaginary people. He was almost relieved to be blown up. He hoped those assholes overseas were being blown up as well.

Cora Albright was probably the only person in the company who actually acknowledged Darren’s existence. Cora was a Tier 4 Policy Implementation Specialist and the person responsible for hiring Darren so that if someone called the company about the advertising copy, they could speak to someone who spoke English. No one ever called, which pretty much made Cora’s life even more meaningless than Darren’s. Three days earlier, her doctor had told her that she had to give up drinking because her liver was on its deathbed and was going to take her with it in less than a year if she didn’t quit drinking. But booze was all that kept Cora from exiting the building through the window instead of the elevator at the end of each day. She was feeling kind of groovy about not having to take that thirty storey ride down to another evening of vodka and orange today. She was about to do the most significant thing she’d ever done in her years with the company, which was to join the chorus and yell, “Fuck you, Jamey Dunlop!” But her mouth was suddenly two blocks away from the thought.

Ever thought about writing a novel but don’t know how to get started or keep the steam up until you have something in your hands ready for a publisher? You need Writing Hurts Like Hell: How to Write a Novel When You Don’t Have Time to Write a Short Story.