Lavinia Did It.

The President of the United States sat at his desk with his head in his hands. No way this was getting any worse. He’d just turned the corner, the economy was coming back, and now this fiasco.

“Admirals, I want you to restate that just so I know I’m not hearing things.”

The Director National Security Agency (DirNSA) looked to the Surgeon General for approval. Getting the nod, he clicked the stylus in his hand and went back to the first slide. 

“Sir, COVID-19  was the original threat. As Admiral Sparberger will tell you, it was already well under control when the new threat emerged. My wife is ill with the new disease, but I test negative, and because of some other indicators, that’s how I came up with the theory. It all fits. It’s mathematically perfect, and all of our analysts agree. We don’t know the exact mechanism of transmission from the source, but it appears to be a valid correlation. We have recommendations on shutting it down, and how to treat it, but the outcry will probably cost all of us our jobs. It’s that crazy.”

Admiral Sparberger shuffled nervously. “I have to agree Mr. President. We must continue the social distancing and shelter-in-place for another month. Really enforce it. Worst of all, the second part of the cure is going to cause some serious mental health problems for many in our population. People don’t read much anymore, and if we carry out this plan it will be horrendous.”

The President stared out the window. “I’ve got to get my sons in here. They will know what to do. I’m not well versed enough in this to render an honest opinion, but I think you two are a pair of jackasses that need to be shot. April Fool’s day or not, this isn’t funny.” 

Pushing a buzzer under his desk, he sat quietly as a trio of Secret Service agents burst in, guns drawn. “Get the boys in here. Mike Pence as well. They’re in the cafeteria with their staff. Just keep these two seated and quiet until I tell you otherwise. No rough stuff, Okay?”

The admirals sat in the chairs next to the desk. President Trump waited for the summoned men to arrive.

“I’ve just heard the most ridiculous thing ever. But since these two aren’t known to be raving lunatics, I want your opinions on this. Admirals, let me explain this in my own words. But if I make a substantial mistake, let me know.”

The men sat quietly while the President continued, “Here’s the nub of it: we’re now facing an epidemic of the Spanish flu. It’s broken out in thousands of homes, pretty much equally distributed around America, but with a big concentration in the middle of the country. In other words, all the places that didn’t get kicked in the guts by the Chinese virus.”

He paused, downed the Diet Coke™, and drummed his fingers on the desk.

“Their solution is to keep everyone sheltered in place, and then shutdown the internet and all television. Cable, broadcast, the whole shebang. Just leave one station on in each area with us in charge and only public service announcements. The entire radio spectrum as well, one per market, etc. Wait until you hear why: the Spanish Flu is being spread because people were binge-watching Downton Abbey. They’ve named this the “Livinia Swires” phenomenon. They have a bunch of charts and so on. They don’t know why, but it seems that the homes that first were infected watched that show, and some character named Livinia dies from the Spanish flu. It’s crazy. But they don’t know how. Until they figure it out, we can’t take chances. Any opinions?”

Vice President Pence started to laugh, “Nice joke, Mr. President. Now, why are we really here?”

The President’s eldest son spoke, “Why now? Why not in the first run of the show. I mean, it’s been off television for years?”

President trump pointed at the admirals. DIRNSA spoke up, “We think it’s because of the emotional state, fear, and reduced exposure to the real world. It didn’t hit the first time around because this is so unique. Why in the heartland? Because most red states didn’t waste their time watching it until they were stuck at home. They had lives to live that day, not waste time on Edwardian England and some toffee-nosed bunch of snobs. My wife and I are both army brats, and don’t have the coastal syndrome. But with time on their hands, and people writing about watching it in a binge to kill the time, it hit hard. She watched it and got sick. I didn’t and I’m fine. We’ve actually measured the incubation as 8 days from when they watch the Spanish flu episode. Somehow, stuck in their homes, people started to think this was real life. Our teams show the virus is real. No clue how it got out of the television – that sounds totally crazy. We don’t know the mechanism. But it’s real. We shut down Amazon Prime this morning before I came over here. My people put a virus – not a great choice of terms, but what it is – on the Amazon servers and crashed them. That fix will be good only four more hours unless we renew it. But we need to kill any way people might get a copy of that show and do it now.”

Don Jr. nodded. “Okay, I get it on taking down Amazon Prime. But why the other things?”

President trump made a rude gesture with his hand, “This is the good part. Go ahead boys.”

The Surgeon General spoke, “We don’t know what else they can conjure up given this phenomenon. We’re particularly afraid of reruns of the Walking Dead which is airing 24-7 on AMC. DIRNSA assures me that he can wreck every DVR in the country with a worm, but that still leaves boxed sets. What if everyone watches Friday the 13th? Will we have that to deal with… We just don’t know. And until we do, we’re recommending shutting it all down.”

Stunned silence filled the room like a coating of frost. 

“Fine. I’ll give the orders. Figure it out and get on with it.”

From outside the Oval Office came a roaring sound and the earth shook. “What the heck is that?”

Moving to the window, the President’s lead Secret Service agent stood at the edge and peered out, looking toward the Washington Monument. His shoulders slumped. Crestfallen, he turned to face the assembly of advisors.

“How many of you caught the free movie on youtube’s streaming service last night?”

Baffled looks crossed the assembled faces.

“It was Godzilla. We’re screwed.”

 

Another Week Of Bleak.

Tomorrow we resume flash fiction for the confined. Today, however, you get one of my patented posts designed to make the stupid uncomfortable, the brilliant cheer, and no matter what else, the time pass before all the snow melts and I can plant the garden. 

Now, let us tackle these items in no particular order.

I preface the whole rant with the fact that I am in a vulnerable group, and I don’t want the China virus. I know it’s horrible for the patients who get it with major symptoms. It takes people in the weakest groups first, perhaps never even showing major symptoms in healthy people – but not always. I am not scoffing at the fact it is killing people. But there are historical problems with this panic. I have friends who have family members ill with the China virus, and I pray for them. But to let it bring down democracy, subvert your liberties, and destroy the economy when other measures are available strikes me as insane. 

First, the majority of the popular press has debased itself with fear-mongering in a most spectacular manner, and lost almost all of the small smattering of credibility it had retained in the wake of the last three years. Each headline, each banner from AOL/MSNBC and the rest, is designed to make you feel even worse, more fearful, and more likely to panic. 

These people can’t even tell you how much it’s going to snow tonight when the snow is falling and the radar shows the speed of the band of snow moving through the area. In Minnesota, that’s a big deal. They almost always grossly over predict the amount. Same here. “Now we bring you Trixie and Luther from the side of the freeway where there is no snow falling yet, but it’s bound to get really awful soon, hopefully before we start the syndicated game show coming up next.”

This virus, for which the worldwide modeling is incomplete, is beyond anything but their wildest guesses. People will get sick. But predicting the crash of the hospital system of one of the 10 largest cities in the United States’ before even 5% of their population is ill is evil. 

More testing will mean more people diagnosed. More people will die, and thus the death toll will rise – you can see it on the right hand side of the screen if you watch cable news. What they aren’t saying is that as the numbers become more accurate, the mortality rate is dropping like a stone. The first people tested were either postmortem, or were ill with COVID-19. That made the mortality rate 100% for the first diagnosed cases. It dropped a bit when the rest of the elderly, infirm people in the facility were tested. And the number continues to drop. But they forget to mention that in the daily panic.

Instead, they blame the President for the virus. This applies to many politicians as well. Sadly, it applies to some of the Christians I know who are blaming this on Donald J. Trump because he was bragging about the economy, or how great America is, or will be, if his vision is followed. To them, this is a warning from a jealous God who is angry with us in America for not following his ways, not being humble, not being good Christians. 

Newsflash: the whole world has this. I’m guessing, because I don’t have the numbers to prove it, that Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists are all having similar survival/infection rates by region. There is no blood on the lintel telling the angel of death to pass over this house because we read the King James Version. Only the NIV version can cause death from COVID-19. 

The God I worship isn’t sitting in Heaven with a tablet watching the afternoon White House briefing and taking notes. “Well, I’ve got to smite Atlanta now, they just had a rally for Trump. Thursday I’ll be letting New York have some ventilators fail because Governor Cuomo didn’t seem to be pious enough during his briefing on Sunday. Doesn’t he know it’s a day of rest?”

Me? I’m blaming the leader of Germany for the virus. And Brazil. And, I’ll even throw in Morocco, Belize, Lithuania, France, and Senegal. Why? Because none of them were ready to test all the citizens the first week, nor did they have a ventilator on each hip waiting for a crest of sick people that you can’t predict ahead of the emergence of the disease.

No healthcare system in the world is geared to handle peak levels without some ramp up to the situation. Nobody can afford to have piles of surplus equipment/beds/supplies waiting for something that may not happen for years. It ages and has to be thrown out which means constantly buying more to replenish stocks. See the link in the next paragraph. Secondly, you can’t make test kits in advance to rapidly detect a specific virus/bacteria until you know what it is. You can have some kits available to detect a variety of things, but you can’t make and store enough to test everyone for everything. This is doubly true for a new and emergent virus – like COVID-19.

If I’m a conservative loon, I need point no farther than the Los Angeles Times. They are not a paper I read with enjoyment – they loathe me and my principles. But they occasionally stumble across the truth. Read this article if you wonder how a little balance might reach into the world of journalism. 

Ignore the press, and those who preach to you about being judged for your sins when you read a secular book. You will feel better. They bring you nothing useful. 

The second item for today’s rant is China. The China Virus – yeah, that’s what it is – should make it obvious to us all that off-shoring our lives is bad for us. 

We need, by statute, to bring vital industries home to the United States. All pharmaceuticals consumed in this country must be made here, with all the ingredients possible sourced within our borders. If it exists here, we use it. Same for medical equipment and supplies. I’ll throw in manufacture of computer chips and telecommunications equipment as well. 

“But, Joe, you’re being extreme!”  

Yes. But we’ve outsourced our lives, and now we’re paying for it. If you think this stinks, wait until the Communist dictatorship in China (for that is what it is) sells us all our communications gear for 5-G. Then they get to tell us what goes on it, and if they have back-doors into the network – which they will – they can shut it down as they see fit. How do I know this – The United States has tried to do the same thing with back door access to encryption, computer chips, and a host of other items. I don’t blame China – that’s what nations do.

As to the magnificent Chinese government, they are thugs who kill their own people for dissenting, harvest the organs of political prisoners, and force people to abort their children. Now, the last one dropped off the list five years ago, but it’s still on the table where we can see it. But my point is, that while the people of China are fine folks, and they make neat things and have an ancient culture, their government would destroy all of the surrounding nations in the blink of an eye, and they would love to see us submit to their will. 

The President may have a friendship with China’s leaders, but it is the polite crap that makes for diplomacy. What he really sees, but can’t say, is a foe armed with nuclear weapons, genocidal tendencies (ask the Uighurs), and a social justice system that takes away your right to leave your city if you are a nuisance to the government. Not the people we want to have control over our economy, medical, or industrial base. 

Now, if you’re angry, and don’t want to read any more, I’ve met my goal. 

But I’m right. And there is little to dispute this. If you are honest with yourself, and all I ask is that you go back 60 days and read the news from your favorite source (they were wrong, no matter who they were), you will have to agree with me. 

I don’t want a victory, I want a discussion of where we go in the future. And out from under China’s thumb is my goal. 

 

 

Time For Kathy Kexel’s Debut!

Along the path I’ve wandered as a writer, I’ve met some delightful people. One of my favorites is a woman I met in a hay field in Wisconsin. Kathy was there for the radio station she worked for, reporting on this assemblage of Christian Authors. We got to talking and became friends. 

This week she saw what Jamie Greening, Joe Shaw, and I had in the works and asked to join in. Okey-dokey! And thus another writer was born. 

Here’s the link to her blog. I don’t think she’s got anything for sale anywhere yet, but that will happen down the road. In the meantime, go read the story: History.

 

See you next week with 4 more flash fiction pieces to keep you amused while we all hide in the basement. Or, Attic. Or, in Shaw’s case the shed in the back of the neighbor’s yard. Please remember that we’re doing this for fun, but we’d really love it if you bought a book, downloaded one of the audio books on this blog, or just sent us your Visa card number.

Bark. Joe Shaw Strikes A Blow!

Joe Shaw is a seriously strange person. I like that in a man. He’s a friend for years, and we’ve worked on some other projects together. Today he joins our legion of free writers. Follow the links on his page and buy some of his stuff – it pays our bills! But it’s on the honor system. No pressure. 

 

Now, follow the link below to the story of the day!

 

Bark – A Free Story

 

 

It’s Jamie Greening Day!

As noted yesterday, we’re kicking this COVID-19 thing to the corner by, um, er, well, writing a bunch of flash fiction about COVID-19. 

On the other hand, it gives me a chance to introduce you to my buddy, and excellent author, Jamie D. Greening. He is one of my favorite people, and a prolific/great author – the two rarely go in tandem. 

Now, our deal is we provide all this stuff for free. We ask that you hit our tin cup on the curb (Amazon) and buy our books/audio books so we can earn a few bucks. His Amazon page is here. Click the link and buy stuff. 

 

Now, without further ado, click this link and go read his story for today: Patient Zero.