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.”
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.