Free Flash Fiction For Today: “We Have Four Options”

Life, as you may have noticed, is a series of choices. Today I bring you a hypothetical that should make you think. Think hard. Think hard about what’s in the news, most of which you’ve chosen to ignore for some reason. Because it’s all right there in front of you.

As a bonus, today there is video narration at this link. And, for those of you who get this via email, I’d suggest going to the blog page to watch it. But here it is in all its embedded glory:

 

We Have Four Options

 

The President’s three closest advisors were representing him at this meeting. The reason the man himself was absent was that they wanted to protect him from the consequences. 

What consequences? When the senior scientific advisor had asked for an Oval Office appointment, the National Security Advisor had asked all the right questions. While the good doctor dodged and flitted about the edges of an answer, it became abundantly clear that it was a “good news with a downside” situation. Sometimes it was just best to take one for the team. If the news wasn’t as awful as she suspected, she’d use the meeting simply as a screen to prepare the briefing documents and do it again a few hours later. But, for now, she wanted to hear this without putting the President in a position where he had to dispense more bad news to the nation.

The past eight months had been horrific. First, the damned Chinese had purposely infected the whole planet with COVID-19. There was no other explanation for it once the intelligence guys had done the analysis. The outbreak in Wuhan started out as a test gone wrong at a bio-warfare lab in late October. Two of the researchers had been exposed and decided to violate protocol and hide the fact. It wasn’t discovered until six hours later, and by then the secret police had grabbed them up and executed them. 

The problem was that the police, everyone at the lab, and the surrounding neighborhoods were all potentially exposed. They put the labs under lock-down, closed the roads and sat on it for a week. In the meantime, all transit from Wuhan was suspended. Easily done, simply stop the means in and out, but do it quietly. But that had taken two days to institute.

A week later every single person exposed had developed the illness. In Beijing the decision was made based on the irreversible fact that COVID-19 was loose in Wuhan: shut down the city, track everyone who had left and make them go away. Permanently.  

Phase two was to buy up every single piece of protective equipment on the planet. Orders went out across the globe, and within a month the Chinese Communist Party had obtained every mask and gown that could be located, along with every ventilator that wasn’t bolted down.

Wuhan, in the meantime, was starting to light up with the virus. The Communist Party of China decided that if their economy was liable to suffer, everyone should suffer. They loaded up everyone who could travel and shipped them around the world. Seattle, Milan, Paris, London, New York, Sao Paolo – if the nation was a potential economic rival in any one of six key industries, they got sent a couple of dozen plane loads of people who were still asymptomatic but who undoubtedly would carry the virus in large numbers. China was not going to suffer this alone, and if they could turn a profit on selling the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) back to the victims, so much the better. 

The western world suffered mightily. Foolish plans to quarantine everyone were sold by the WHO (World Health Organization) after some not-so-subtle pressure, and money, from the Chinese government. This resulted in a depression level of unemployment and business failings. 

The summer wasn’t bad, people started to come back and build lives again. Unemployment dropped to horrible, but manageable, levels and people started to resume life as it was before. 

Late September was cold and rainy across the northern hemisphere. Colds and influenza showed up early in a populace that had spent too much time inside, and had built little immunity over the time. 

Now, the second round of COVID-19 was flashing across the globe and it was easily twice as bad as the first round. People were starting to starve, crime was rampant, and the hospitals were scenes out of a horror movie. The urgent call from the head of the task force was hopefully the breakthrough they’d been seeking.

Seven people sat around the conference table in the Executive Office Building. Meetings were often held here because of multiple covert access points that shielded identities and managed to forego the hub-bub that came with people arriving at the White house itself.

The doctor opened the meeting.

“It’s not too much to say that we are on the brink of collapse as a republic. The whole of the western world is ready to implode, and only the Chinese government has managed to keep this from overwhelming them. They clearly developed a vaccine before this got loose, and in the ensuing months they have vaccinated their people.”

A murmur of disgust went around the table. 

The National Security Advisor spoke next, “Doctor, we know all of that. But what do you have that made you call this meeting? I don’t need a recap on the nightmare.”

“I bring a solution. It’s that simple. We have made progress over the last month, and it comes simply down to four questions. Each choice is a “go/no go” for the president. Each choice offers us a way out of this with a hope for the future. Barring a selection in the immediate future of one of these options, we’re done as a civilization.”

The NSA stared at the table for a moment before lifting her eyes and saying, “Go ahead, Doctor. But spit it out because it’s clearly unpalatable.”

“It is, Ma’am. The first choice is to surrender our sovereignty to the Chinese and beg them for the vaccine. We’ll save lives. They have therapies as well so that we can treat most of the sick and keep the death toll under 25 million.”

“No. Never. Next idea.”

He hesitated for a moment. “Choice number two is to triage with extreme severity. We deny medical care for anyone over the age of 50, anyone with a chronic medical condition, anyone under the age of six, and anyone with a history of mental health issues. These groups are the ones with the highest death rates from the disease, and the ones most in need of care that could be given to others. If we do this, and let the disease burn through the populace, we will come out on the other side with approximately 40 million deaths, but a nation of people who are immune to the disease. This leaves the most productive members of society left to take care of themselves. It is brutal, but it allows us to snap back quickly once the dead are buried.”

 The horror of that solution was beyond the pale as well. The President would never accept it. He didn’t want to be known as the modern day Kodos of Tarsus IV. 

Shaking her head in the negative, she motioned for the doctor to continue.

“The final two options are linked intrinsically. We know from studies that certain stem cell products can be used to rapidly produce antibodies that would be used as part of a vaccine. The normal molecular soup process for vaccine production just doesn’t work very well with COVID-19, and it’s painfully slow. The problem is obtaining enough material for it to have any real impact. Most of the product we’ve used in our research has come from non-vital fetal cells, and by going that route we can much more quickly produce vaccines.”

The NSA pointed at him, “You mean you’re using abortion products to conduct your research! That’s against the law. That’s explicitly against the President’s orders.”

The doctor shrugged. “We’re using older data from before the ban and extrapolating. But let me continue. The issue is that we can also get this product from infants up to about three months by infecting them and then harvesting blood products. There is a protocol that would allow us to use them as a, for a lack of a better term, host organism. This would have to be conducted in a laboratory setting with 24 hour a day care and nourishment on an accelerated scale to allow us to harvest enough antibodies to provide treatment and vaccine for the public. Frankly, every child born in the next year, and including those under two months of age, would have to be a part of this project.”

The NSA wiped away a tear. “That’s monstrous. Parents will not accept their children being taken and put into some kind of “Matrix” lab to be harvested. That’s off the table.”

“Fine. That leads us to a final solution. There are an annual 350,000 abortions in the United States each year. Our research tells us that the number would be much higher right now due to the pandemic, if we allowed abortions in the third trimester without restriction. The annual birthrate is 3.7 million per year. All we’re asking for is an additional 2 million abortions, most in the second and third trimester because the fetus is so large it would provide the material needed more quickly.”

Horrified silence sank over the table.

“It’s not that bad. We’re talking about 50% of the children surviving and emerging into a world where the disease is defeated. I think that’s a reasonable request. They are not people yet under most state laws, we would provide a very substantial financial incentive for the mothers to abort, and we would save our society. It’s simply giving people what they want, or should want, and everyone else benefiting. It is the ideal solution to our situation. You’ve ruled out all the rest. I’m simply saying that a completely legal procedure we do almost half-a-million times each year be increased for just a few months, until we can harvest enough stem cells to cure everyone past birth.”

The National Security Advisor got up from her chair, dried her tears and said, “I can pick for you. None of the above. I speak for the President on this without a doubt. We will not go down in history as the biggest monsters in the twenty first century. I will schedule an appointment with the President for 1500 today, and you can present your case. But don’t plan on coming back to work ever again. As a matter of fact, Doctor, you can sit right here and I’ll go meet with the President now. I’ll call for you when he’s ready to meet.”

She turned and walked out the door. The doctor shouted at her back, “Don’t you want to know how the trials went?”

Seven seconds later she came back into the room. “Explain that last statement.”

The doctor smirked. “We knew he’d be too gutless to take the right actions. The man’s a Luddite. He doesn’t believe in science, nor does he have any common sense. Look at all the times he rejected my advice. So a month ago, before the second wave even hit, we conducted a trial in Cleveland.”

The NSA sat back in her chair. 

He continued, “It wasn’t huge. But we conducted a study on women in their last trimester. By offering then an incentive from CDC funding, we encouraged a 75% participation rate in the study. It wasn’t hard, we just leaned on them a bit, stoked their fears. Leaving MSNBC on in the waiting room was a big help. Now, we know in the event of this going large scale, we’d need close to 100%, but we can determine the selectees of that process easily enough. Select unwed mothers first, they have the largest chance of failing with a child. Next, any children with congenital defects. Finally, we’d fill out the numbers with a random lottery for the remaining slots. The first two groups would simply be denied further care if they didn’t participate. The last group would be encouraged. It will work. We’d definitely give them a better chance if it was their only child, but families with two, or more, children would have no choice.”

He paused to assess the room. “Don’t look so shocked. The Chinese did it for decades and nobody but religious zealots said a word. It helped the Chinese advance their industrial base and get them to where they are now. Some of these inferior outcomes that hinder our society will be eliminated, leaving only viable ones with support mechanisms.”

“You mean children with parents that have money and a future, don’t you?”

The doctor nodded, enthusiastic now that she was seeing the light. “Precisely. We are just speeding up nature’s selection process. Nothing more. Many of those culled for the vaccine would fail, fill our jails, and burden our schools with special needs for the next fifty years. We’re not out much.”

The NSA got up to leave. But before she did, the doctor, in a low voice, said, “I’m immune. The test group was without a major incident. I took part in the first batch of inoculations, as did all of my staff and their families. We then were all exposed to the virus. Not a single person got ill. It works. And, nothing succeeds like success. So before you go to the President and poison my work, think about the backlash from the press when we tell them that he turned down a cure. Because that’s what it is. The cost is minor, and the needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few.”

“Oh, I’ll let you tell him. Because when he’s done kicking your behind in public, it’s just a matter of time until you eventually die and get to explain it to Saint Peter. Somehow I don’t think either audience is going to be pleased that you used human sacrifice to try to end an epidemic.”

“One more thing, Doctor: If I were you, I’d look up Luke 17:2. And then have a tailor fit you for when the time comes.”

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

We hope you’ll visit the other authors who comprise this collection: Paul Bennett, Robert CelyDerek Elkins, Jamie D. Greening, Kathy Kexel, and Joe Shaw. As always, there’s no fee, we’re doing this to help you pass the time. We do ask that you buy our books/audio books to help pay the freight here. But that’s up to you! Mine are all on the right margin of the blog.

.

Comments are closed.