Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.

To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Everyone Finishes a Novel and Thanks the Participants

Everyone thought she or he had finished the blog novel, but apparently another chapter remained. Everyone was uncertain what to do with it. After all, everyone was dead, at least as she or he had last left off.

That is when everyone’s former coworker J. D. leaned against the doorframe to everyone’s office, everyone’s dog on a leash in her or his hand, everyone her- or himself literally tied to her or his desk.

Everyone had not seen J. D. since J. D.’s expulsion from a window on another side of the floor, save inside other people. “J. D., you’re alive,” everyone expostulated.

“Every bit as much as you,” J. D. said. “Thanks, everyone, for writing the book and reading.”

“You read my book?” everyone asked, both surprised and ecstatic.

“In a manner of speaking,” J. D. said, “yes. That is, I wrote it.”

Everyone was confused. Everyone’s friend the Internet had talked about how readers were writers, but everyone rarely listened when the Internet went off on theoretical tangents. Everyone had wanted to find her or his identity, and instead the Internet had speculated on how everyone could be multiple people at once. The Internet had been little help throughout the course of writing the novel.

You wrote it?” everyone asked J. D.

“With others,” J. D. said. “Thanks.”

Everyone asked J. D. who she or he was thanking.

“The other readers, of course,” J. D. said. “This is the end of the novel, so it’s traditional that we acknowledge the participants at this point.”

“I thought we were dead,” everyone observed.

“Not as long as we are in this book,” said J. D. “As long as we are here, the story continues for as long as anyone wants to read it.”

“But Sam, the nurse, the germs, the window,” everyone protested, listing off recent events and characters.

“All part of the book,” J. D. said.

“Hello,” said Sam, coming into the frame. “How was I?” Sam asked. Sam was out of the scrubs everyone had last seen her or him in and was now wearing the plaid jacket that everyone had seen in the bushes at the base of their office building nearly a year ago.

“A bit inconsistent,” J. D. said, “but don’t worry. You’ll grow on people in subsequent readings.”

“You hope,” said Harvey, vacuum cleaner in hand. Harvey was a part-time janitor.

Everyone examined the straps across her or his body that kept everyone wedded to the desk. “You mean, I--” Everyone tore them off and stood. “I can go anywhere.”

“Within the trajectory of the book, yes,” said J. D.

Just then, everyone saw the meaning of life. The meaning of life was walking down the hall behind J. D. and Sam and Harvey at the door, cap in hand, sunglasses over eyes. Then everyone’s spouse passed. They were together.

“Was that?” everyone asked.

J. D. and Sam and Harvey nodded.

Everyone ran into the hall, but the meaning of life had already disappeared. Everyone ran after them.

And then, everyone saw it. It was the beginning of the novel. It was leaning against the window frame looking out, the window whose glass was missing. The beginning of the novel was smoking, the entire city before it. Everyone slowed, crouched. She or he wasn’t going to let the beginning of the novel get away. Everyone got down on her or his hands and knees, crawled. The beginning of the novel turned toward the hall, saw everyone. Everyone jumped.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Everyone Participates in a Medical Experiment

Everyone was in the hospital. The hospital looked like everyone’s office. The bed on which everyone lay appeared like everyone’s desk. The bed was bolted to the wall. Along another wall was a window that looked into the sky. Above everyone were shelves; below everyone, file cabinets.

The shelves held photos of John Quincy Adams in Hawaii. Everyone and his or her four children were in some of the photos, Star especially. One photo featured Journey eating a chocolate bar. Everyone hadn’t realized Journey had had chocolate when they’d gone to visit John Quincy Adams.

Everyone’s coworker and next-door officemate Sam carried a clipboard on which he or she wrote about everyone. Everyone had not been well.

“That is not it at all,” Sam said. “You are perfectly healthy.” Sam was wearing nurse’s scrubs.

Sam pulled out a vacuum cleaner nozzle. At one end was a stopper and at the other end a needle. “Dasney Amusement Park Malls is entering the medical field,” Sam explained. “All employees have a choice. They can receive a vaccine for a life-threatening disease to which Dasney is exposing its employees or they can be control subjects.”

“Not interested,” everyone said.

Sam dropped the needle on the floor. “Very well,” Sam said, stepping from the room. “Germ dissemination will begin in ten seconds.” Sam put a gas mask over his or her face and closed the door.

What everyone had meant by “not interested” was “not interested in participating.” Everyone had a family to feed. There was no good reason to make a perfectly healthy person sick. However, “nonparticipation” was not one of the choices. Everyone cried.

Sam watched everyone through the glass frame in the door.

Tiny microbes landed on everyone’s skin, crawled across it, entered the nostrils, the mouth, the ears, the buttocks, the eyes, the pores. Everyone cried some more.

The next thing everyone knew, the famous actor Clint Gabble was standing over him or her. Clint was wearing a cocktail dress, black and velvet. Across the rib cage was a set of lines that looked like bones. “Hello,” Clint Gabble said. “I’m Beth.”

Everyone knew Clint Gabble from the movies The Real Mr. Keen, Fifty-Two Ways to Blog about the Meaning of Life, and Everyman: The Movie. The last two featured everyone’s child Jody. Jody and Clint had gone waterskiing together. According to the Internet, Jody and Clint had become friends. Everyone had only met Clint Gabble twice before, once at a party everyone crashed and once at the production of Everyman. The last time had been the last time everyone had seen Jody; hence, it was natural for everyone to ask Clint about his or her child.

“Kindred’s dead,” Beth said. “We all have to stand on our own at the end.”

Everyone sighed. Everyone did not care for method acting but knew enough to play along. “I know, Beth,” everyone said, “but it’s been four weeks. Surely Jody has started another role.”

“I’m death,” Clint clarified. “Not Beth. Prepare to meet your maker.”

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Everyone Takes an Identity Test

Sometimes everyone felt as if she or he were a man, and other times, everyone felt as if she or he were a woman. Everyone asked the Internet if such feelings were common.

The Internet said it never worried about gender, but it was willing to provide everyone with some tests that might help her or him discover her or his identity.

Everyone asked whether the tests involved writing. Everyone wanted to know more about who she or he was but not enough to compose essays. Everyone was writing a blog novel, which was already more writing than everyone wanted to do.

The Internet said that a test with a writing sample was possible but would cost money. Knowing how poor everyone was, having lost $5092 to one of her or his children, the Internet suggested a selection of free multiple-choice tests.

Everyone chose a test that had a picture with every question. The questions asked things like, When you see this drawing, do you see a penis or a vagina? The drawing looked like an elongated peapod. Everyone was unsure which to select.

Everyone stood up from her or his desk and walked to the window. Everyone was in her or his office on the twelfth floor. The window looked out on downtown, where not long ago someone everyone knew had died by jumping or falling into the bushes below. Over the past year, everyone had lived with this person inside because the incident was one she or he could not let go of. In part, this was because everyone’s coworker Sam often raised it in conversation. In part, this was because everyone’s night and day thoughts often returned to the jump.

Everyone realized she or he had never really known the jumper.

Just as everyone had never really known the spouse who had left her or him.

Or their children.

Or her- or himself.

Who was everyone? everyone asked. How did she or he get here? There were simple answers to these questions: By car or by foot. A mix of various elements that also composed Sam and the building and the window. But what were those elements when one got beyond the individual particles? Why did they compound and unite as they did and from whence did they come and why? And was any of it real, and what did the “real” itself consist of?

Everyone sat back down at the computer and looked at the question. Everyone hovered the mouse over vagina or penis, penis or vagina. No third choice was provided.

“Could you give me a different test?” everyone asked the Internet.

Everyone always wanted something else, and the Internet was tired. “No,” the Internet said. “Pick one. It doesn’t matter which. Act!

Everyone tried to close the window on the computer. The mouse, however, refused to leave the frame. There were only two choices.

Everyone stood again and walked into the hall. Everyone walked to the other side of the building. The window from which the person had jumped was here, the person everyone had never really known, and it was open.

Everyone had stayed away from the window since the jump. But not today.

Everyone walked to its edge and looked. The sky seemed so clear that everyone could not figure out what was inside it. And then, below, everyone saw her- or himself gazing up.

Everyone’s heart stopped. It was scary to be so close to the perimeter. Everyone closed her or his eyes.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Everyone Crashes a Party

The news had traveled unbelievably fast, but such was how the world worked when the Internet was a close friend of yours. Everyone’s spouse and the meaning of life had left the party around five p.m. They had traveled in an exceptionally expensive Roles Roice convertible to an office building downtown. A restaurant with a special lounge that admitted only people who mattered resided on the top floor. The twelfth floor was where everyone’s office was. There, the news reports said, everyone’s spouse and the meaning of life had made a pact. The pact involved undying love for one another.

This news, had everyone heard it, would have depressed everyone. Everyone would have wanted to drink Popsi Cola but would have settled for Handsome Diet Cola because everyone was trying to lose weight in order to attract back his or her spouse.

This was why everyone kept rejecting the advances of his or her coworker Sam, even though Sam was hot and didn’t seem to care that everyone was not. Sam felt as if everyone shared a connection with him or her because their ex-coworker J. D. lived inside them. Sam had much affection for J. D., and everyone had come to have affection for him or her because J. D. was dead.

“Where is the meaning of life?” everyone asked the people at the party. The party was for people who mattered, and everyone had crashed it.

“Didn’t you hear?” the famous actress Gina Monrovia asked. She pointed at the television in the cabin of the boat where the party was. The television was atop a bar, where people who mattered sat drinking. Sam, wearing a risqué swimsuit, was among them, placing his or her hand on the knee of the person beside. Sam had a cocktail in the other hand and appeared to be drunk. Everyone wondered if it was because of him or her. They had come to the party together, but everyone had spent it looking for the meaning of life and his or her spouse. Sam had probably thought everyone was ignoring him or her, which everyone was, but that didn’t stop everyone from feeling jealous that Sam’s hand was on the knee of a person who mattered.

That’s when everyone saw the picture on the television. The picture showed everyone’s downtown office building. Blue lights strobed around it as if the party for people who mattered had moved from the boat to everyone’s building. The strobe lights were from police cars, and yellow ribbon ran between them.

“The meaning of life committed suicide,” Gina continued, “minutes ago. It’s all over the news.” Gina took a sip of Popsi Cola. The Popsi Cola was laced with bourbon. Gina was drunk. This was because Gina’s boyfriend Clint Gabble, another famous actor, had gotten up an hour earlier to visit the bathroom with a parent who had been hired to pretend to be everyone. Clint had been spending a lot of time with the cast of a local play that had been turned into a movie, and Gina rarely saw him anymore and was afraid that Clint was going to leave her the way everyone was leaving her right now to be closer to the television at the bar.

On the television was a replay. It showed the meaning of life in silhouette walking toward an open window on the twelfth floor of the building where everyone worked. The meaning of life stood for a moment looking down before the jump. The jump looked as if meaning were leaping out the emergency chute of an airplane--a little scared but not in a way that would have announced death.

On the ground now among the police cars, everyone saw the body covered in blue plastic.

Everyone wondered where his or her spouse was.

Around him or her the strobe lights reigned.