A COVID ALLEGORY
A COVID ALLEGORY by Sean Arthur , seanarthurart.com
So you live on the West Coast. The weather is wonderful because fire season hasn’t started yet. It’ll be horrific when it comes, but for now, smooth sailing.
You go the market, you pick up your Significant Other at one of the airport conference halls, you get your slick, new hybrid automobile charged and washed.
And then the next morning you wake up with a bomb vest strapped around your chest. Same for your partner.
Holy Fucking Shit! How could this possibly happen? We didn’t feel anything!
They have timers, they are ‘live’, but haven’t started counting. You’ve got to get this fuckin’ thing off your body. Not to mention your partner’s. But there is no way. You dig out some scissors and knives. Can’t find a clasp or a buckle, can’t be cut, nothing works. Oh God!
Before you can press 911, your phone rings. It’s your best friend who works airport security. She’s in tears. She’s got a Vest too. So does her hubby, and the young couple across the hall. You tell her you were near the airport yesterday and now you guys have a vest too.
“Put on the news!” she yells. “And don’t bother to call 911, no one can get these effin things off.”
You do and there’s hardly a mention, until one brief news story about a “small” city in China (that has 20 million people in it, Christ what is wrong with those Asians?) where CNN says there are already hundreds of thousands of people with these bomb vests and it’s probably out of control because the Chinese are tight lipped about the whole thing. The less forthright they are, guaranteed the worse it is.
In a few days the President will tell the nation that it’s all been contained, no one has to worry, HE’s solved the crisis, but in reality he’s dropped the ball big time. This is one of the important jobs the Office has, mobilizing and leading in a crisis, and he doesn’t do it. Instead he goes golfing.
By the time he ends passenger flights from China there are already hundreds of thousands of people on the West Coast waking up with the Vest and a million in China, where the entire ‘small city’ is locked down like a prisoner of war camp. Iraq, where the Chinese do secret business, appears to have been thrown to the wolves. Vests are now spreading like a toxic algae bloom in a heat wave, from big city to big city just about everywhere. Thanks Big Guy, thanks for nothing.
It doesn’t take long before the counters start, but there is no formal pattern. Counters simply do not go up in Vests of people who have fled to the back country or isolate. Lock yourself in your home and simply do not go out. For some, the counters only go up a few numbers on and off over a normal day. But when near other Vest people it is always worse. But should a Vest wearer go out in a place where the hospitals are filling with the afflicted, their Vest counters go up much faster. Others note rapid numbers in large crowds, like in airports or bus stations or arenas or concert venues or lecture halls, even busy shopping malls, even when there are only a handful of Vest wearers visible in the crowds.
Out hiking in the countryside, the counters don’t change. Riding on a City bus, steady tick up. At home with a work-at-home partner, no change. But your Vest wearing hubby comes in from the Call Centre and you from the mall where you work security, and your numbers jump even faster. Son of a Bitch!
The first Vest Victim (an unlucky Chinese traveler from that ‘small city’), starts a rapid count that suddenly stops. Then the numbers plummet and his health worsens alarmingly. Doctors can’t stop it. Then The Vest counts down to zero over just a couple of hours, something in it goes off and he’s dead.
In the Hospital, every patient, every visitor, everyone working there, everyone delivering supplies senses a grim future, while more and more Vest people come in hour after hour, their ‘Vest clocks’ running. Only a few do they manage to keep alive. Oh no.
The Vest doesn’t blow these early victims to pieces, mind you, like in the movies. Usually one has trouble breathing, and then turns pale and poof, with a small shock they are gone. Apparently the President is informed at some point that people are dying en-mass already, and the CDC has guidelines that will save lives and will he address the nation and his followers and tell them what they must do? No. No he will not. “It’s not quite clear how it works yet,” says one Aid, who is not a scientist.
“These measures will harm the economy more than save it,” insists one butthole advisor. This The Pres likes. His cronies only want to talk about “The Economy” and the stock market and interest rates. Lives? Nah. Assholes, all of them.
When this news gets out, about people dying, now by the hundreds in New York City and San Francisco and L.A. , and in nursing homes and where poorer people live in greater densities, you’d think everyone would loose their shit and do whatever the scientists suggest. But no.
The poor have nowhere to go, and they distrust The Man anyway. The radicals and wannabe fascists won’t be told what to do, and die trying as their Vests go off. The White House doesn’t give a rat’s ass anyway, the proof in that they just make it worse. We learn the previous administration left them a complete plan (that took years of work) on how to deal with this kind of crisis and the new “Organization” — i.e. bunch of toadies and grifters — ignored it…and instead were seen running around like imbeciles, wondering what to do next and how to make money off it. You look on at your beloved country in dismay.
Nobody, not hospitals, counties or States have extra money for the extra medical supplies and The Pres won’t send emergency funds to those States who didn’t vote for him and he tells everyone, “You’re on your own”. Did we use the word ‘asshole’ yet? He’s no leader.
The White House still holds official events without precaution, as if assholery is a valid Vest Deterrent. It’s not. One soiree in the Rose Garden finds several very important people wearing the Vest over the next two weeks.
If we weren’t news junkies before, we are now. Finally some eggheads are allowed to speak some truth on the national airwaves, then are quoted all over social media and they say, as far as they can figure out, people who are far away from the outbreaks, who are isolated by geography or by deliberate design just don’t get the Vest. Or if they have The Vest, the counter stops.
They spell out the precautions to take. Isolate yourself. Limit close contact. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. And they promise they are working on the technology to neutralize the vest. It’s now a world-wide emergency.
“Its coming. The White House is expediting paperwork and red tape. We believe we know how to crack this nut. We’ll work on how to stop the timer, if it starts, and we’ll work on how to get the vest off. This is a technology we can crack. Meanwhile, follow our instructions and isolate as much as you can!”
Well, you can. But you don’t really. And neither do tens of millions.
But you do check in with people around you. Uncle Joe and Aunty Florence, who live in Florida, decide never the leave their condo again, and they remain okay, even though they can see hordes of people with Vests walking around the luxury mall across the street. A friend tells you his family, who lives in rural Montana, won’t, along with just about every rancher they know, let anyone near their farm they don’t know personally, and no one’s ever seen a Vest on anyone out there.
You and your hubby now decided to lie low. It’s boring. You binge on streaming movies and television. You have CNN on all the time. Fox News is, apparently, being beamed in from an alternate reality. You buy everything online. Even stuff you don’t need. Well, you did before, so some things haven’t changed that much.
In Italy it’s nuts. No one stays home, to the frustration of every official. They don’t want to call out the police to empty the streets but they do when the morgues fill up. Grandma was getting to be a pain, and grandpa was so senile he kept peeing himself, but many more people die than just the elderly. “What’s the matter with you people?” says one mayor on local TV. “Stay home. Are you all a bunch of idiots?”
Down at the Fresh Market you wear a mask, because it is the cheapest and the easiest way to put a barrier between you and anyone else, and sometimes your counter doesn’t move at all. You see all the other people wearing a mask and most have Vests but their timers of course aren’t running either, or hardly. If your timer really gets running, you run to the hospital.
True, some maskers have the Vest and some don’t, and the employees are masked and gloved, except for two who inexplicably don’t. And outside, some anti-mask protesters you recognize as unemployed nut jobs and drug dealers are screaming about their rights. And the woman whose family owns the local bowling alley and dry cleaners.
“Why aren’t you masked?” you ask the stock boy, who is actually in his early twenties. “I don’t like it,” he says with a hint of accent, showing his beautiful smile, “and it’s just the Government pushing us around. They want to control us but we’ve got rights you know. I know I’ll be fine!” But one day a couple months later, you’re back in the store, and you hear that he and most of his extended family are dead. His little sister never got it and a grandmother went to stay with her niece on a palm tree farm west of Homestead. Jesus Christ.
Rumors blow around Social Media about getting the Vest off. Desperation and idiocy. Solvents and acids. Extreme UV lights. Lots of praying. It’s all bunk. God will protect you, says one Pastor (who doesn’t want to lose Sunday donations). Several thousand people eventually die from his Sunday Super Spreader event. God, you know, has never given a shit. Some he saves, some he doesn’t. Payer is good, but it doesn’t unlock the Vest.
The Pres wants to hold more rallies, he’s deflating. So does his base want to gather en mass, all delusional to a one, because they’ll attend. When asked about the timing, The Pres says, It’ll be gone in the spring, like the flu. “One day, it will just disappear.” His science advisors almost stroke out, the veins popping out of the sides of their heads.
You call your daughter, who lives in New Zeeland now, where no one has The Vest, but the entire country has locked down. Months ago they bit the bullet (when you should have), took the economic hit, and locked down the boarders like the world was in anarchy and the island the only sane place left on the planet. None of you Fuckers are allowed in. And it worked. Life there is normal…enough.
“Get the hell out of there Mom!” Your daughter yells at you, “Are you and dad fuckin’ crazy? Close up the house, go to the cabin and don’t see anyone or anybody for at least a month! You’re one of the lucky people who has a place to go!”
“But honey, we’ve been wearing the masks and washing our hands,” you tell her.
You can hear her groan from the other side of the world. “I don’t want to come to your funerals. And I can’t anyway, if I leave, I won’t get back in.”
“But Honey…” normally you don’t go to the cabin this time of year. Silence.
“We’ll let you know.”
The place was built by your husband’s father and grandfather and is just an A frame out in the hills, with two bedrooms and a great view of the valley, and no insulation, just tight construction.
Your husband is still working. He helps run a local trucking company. “People gotta eat, he says”. He’s strangely bone headed about the seriousness of the situation.
(Honey, you’ve got a FUCKING BOMB VEST on your chest! You can’t schedule drivers and trucks if you’re DEAD!).
So you tell him you’ll go alone if you have to and he realizes he’ll miss you and your wonderful pussy (We’re kind of a package, you know?) and he says he’ll ask about a couple weeks leave and then working from home. Which would be the cabin. At least there’s electricity. And water.
So one day, you go. It’s a few hours drive up into the hills. You take the old gas car, because there’s no charging stations out there, and you make a couple of trips and stock up on food and fuel and essentials. Hubby decides to be handy about things and goes to the nearest town, buys tools and building stuff and in a few days the place is much cozier and then one morning, about three weeks later, after really, seriously isolating, (not only can you not see your neighbor, you’ve barely left the building even tho’ you could), the vests just fall off.
The digital timers are dead. You dance victory dances.
You’re so relieved that you get drunk and have sex outside against a pine tree, naked and free, and later again under the stars, like you were 20 again, except its better. The Vests stay off.
You tell everybody you know. About the Vests.
But now you’re kinda afraid to go anywhere. The Eggheads explain that isolating isn’t the same as a permanent solution. A new Vest could suddenly reattach. But they’re almost there, finding a solution, so hang tight.
It’s lonely, but safe. But not all dull. Like some twist in a soap opera plot, even The Pres gets The Vest. Other World Leader Boneheads get The Vest too! It’s mindboggling. The Pres is spotted by news hounds looking pretty ill, trying to hide his Vest under a huge coat, but it just makes him look even more bloated than usual, and suddenly he’s in Walter Reid Memorial hospital. Maybe getting the bleach treatment he mused about so stupidly, months ago? Anyway, somehow, he emerges days later, no Vest. Sounds like he’s pumped on drugs and God knows what else they did to him. Unfortunately whatever they did, they can’t do for everybody else, just him, so people keep dying.
Isn’t that great.
More and more just can’t hold on and pass away. Hundreds of thousands now, and millions have their clock start and stop and the Vest does fall off, but are severely hurt long term. Yet to the horror of the rest of the World, the country grows more and more polarized. Ridiculous numbers of people are incensed by orders to wear masks and stop bowling, hanging around in bars, wandering about in shopping malls and going to basketball games. Other countries mask up big time, follow guidelines, keep life going and have a fraction of the deaths you have. It’s sad and embarrassing.
And then, suddenly, science comes to the rescue.
A tiny Nano chip, so small you can’t really see what it is with the naked eye, is inserted under the skin in your shoulder, and it uses your body’s electrical fields “to interfere with the signals” the Vests use, so that after a couple of weeks the Vest just seems to give up and fall off. Or if you never had it, you are now essentially invisible to it. The chip will stay active for a couple of years, but by that time, if enough people have gotten the chip, Science says there won’t be enough Vests left to spread themselves around. Then maybe they’ll actually go away for good.
Where did the Vests come from? No one really knows, and the Chinese insist that they were looking into this technology, but it wasn’t them. Honest.
Scientists explain that the Vests seem to spread when one Vest senses a body without a Vest and sort of tags it, that is, You. How close do you have to be to get it? Hard to say…a few feet? Three yards? How many taggings does it take? Hard to know, just one sometimes, other times a dozen or more. How do we know if we can survive the Vest, when the timer starts running? Impossible to predict.
Probability theory says the key factors are where you live and how many Vests there are in your community and the frequency that people with the Vests are out and about. The idea is ‘exposure’. Just limit your exposure. Wear a mask.
The tagging itself is undetectable and doesn’t harm you. Many, many people are fooled by this fact and come to believe it is all a hoax. But after enough ‘exposures’ you’re bound to get the Vest. And once you get the Vest, the longer you have it, the greater and greater the chance your clock will start and you’ll die.
And strangely enough, to keep yourself 95% safer and confuse the Vests, all you and those around you have to do is limit your close contact and wear a mask.
Yet most of The Pres’ supporters don’t appear to believe that, because The Pres doesn’t. He only changes his tune when a ‘Key Advisor’ points out that if his voting base gets The Vest and then dies, he’ll have no chance of re-election. So he kind of, sort of speaks out.
And now, after a change of Leadership and a new man at the helm, Science comes through! There is a chip, and you and your hubby get it and life almost feels normal again, except you can’t have sex outside when you move back to the suburbs. And there’s still no basketball to get tickets for.
It is such a relief to go out, still masked, and see so many in your community protected by the chip. So fewer Vests. But to your utter amazement, after a few months, the progress suddenly stops. People aren’t getting the protection, and new Vests are surging through unprotected groups like California wild fires.
Still, you get groceries, you go for jogs in the park. Where you run into someone you know, tangentially, who is out with his new girlfriend, both unmasked.
“It’s a plan to take over your mind!” he tells you, when you ask if he’s got the chip.
“Really? How do you know this?”
“I’m not doin’ it! Groups on the dark Web have the true information.”
His girlfriend beams at him idiotically.
“And they’re slipping God knows what vaccines and birth control in with those chips! The CIA and WHO want to make us all sterile!”
And this is your cousin’s ex, who owns a grocery store! Last you heard. Now you don’t want to know. However, the nut job who rants at your City Council meetings, all blonde dreadlocks and missing teeth, is so much worse.
You protest, “But the chip becomes inert after two or three years, Clyde! And sterility? No one’s reported that.”
“We don’t actually know that. They have you fooled. It’s propaganda.”
“Except to you and your secret friends? And all the deaths?”
“No worse than a bad flu season. News outlets normally hide that stuff.”
“Oh, it’s a thousand times worse. We’ve seen it on CNN.”
“Fake news. Staged.”
“But people with the chip don’t get The Vest. You can see it. It saves lives!”
“Yeah, and they’re robots and Big Brother is tracking them.”
“You really think that? That they’re interested in you?”
“Oh Darlin’, you are so naïve. I’m never getting the chip. We’ll scoot by this on heard immunity, then when the truth comes out how chipped men are sterile and birth defects go through the roof, my little swimmers will be worth more than gold. More than bit coin.”
“Don’t tell me you’re saving your sperm in the kitchen freezer.”
“Nope, it’s full. Bought myself a new mini freezer and put it in the garage. Even got cases of tiny medical bottles with those snap down lids. Like little clear beer bottles. But you know, sterilized.”
At that point you realize, maybe God is trying to ‘cull the heard’.
You literally run, off the beaten path and away from Clyde and you realize how short life is and you stop and call you’re husband: “Meet me in the park when you’re done work, Momma’s got an itch that needs scratching.” He’s there in jogging shorts in ten minutes.
Sean Arthur, September 2021